A BEAUTIFUL interpretation of a Dales meadow in all its wildflower glory has won silver at this year’s Chatsworth Flower Show.

The garden’s creator, Craven gardener, Royal Horticultural Society gold medal designer and TV presenter, Chris Myers, captured a glimpse of the quintessential Dales in his picture-postcard representation.

His creation highlighting life in the Yorkshire Dales included a small converted barn and cottage garden, as well as some of the area’s rich wildlife habitats.

Among these were a mini broadleaved woodland planted with species typical of the Dales, dry stone walls complete with mosses, lichens and sheltered nooks and crannies, and a traditional hay meadow full of native wildflowers.

Creations & Installations helped Mr Myers to build the garden, which is sponsored by Johnsons of Whixley, a Yorkshire nursery which also gifted many of the plants. Barcham Trees supplied the native trees and award-winning drystone waller Gordon Simpson, from Nidderdale, gave his time and expertise free of charge, building the cottage from weathered stone.

The stone will be returned to Yorkshire after the show.

As well as being an experienced garden designer and TV presenter, Mr Myers is also an ambassador for local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) – a role which had a big influence on his award-winning design.

He said: “The Yorkshire Dales landscape is changing. Many of the barns once used to shelter sheep are now houses, and the species-rich hay meadows on which those sheep were fed are now grassy fields with no wildflowers.

“We’ve lost 97 per cent of our traditional hay meadows. Fortunately YDMT is working hard to save these precious habitats and the wildlife they support, and I’m passionate about supporting this work.

“I’m really chuffed that this garden has proved popular with the RHS judges here at Chatsworth. Fingers crossed the visitors will be inspired too.”

Once a common sight, species-rich hay meadows like the one featured in this garden at Chatsworth, are now among the most threatened habitats in Europe.

Through the Hay Time project, YDMT is working with farmers and landowners across the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland to help to bring these iconic habitats back from the brink.

Locally-harvested wildflower seed has been added to more than 700 hectares so far, and traditional low-intensity management has been reinstated to help bring back native wildflowers and provide a vital habitat for the many rare species of wildlife they support.

YDMT’s chief executive, David Sharrod, said: “As well as being an ambassador for YDMT, Chris is a skilled plantsman and designer with a passion for the Yorkshire Dales, and we were thrilled when he invited us to be involved in this exciting project.

“It’s been a fantastic experience for us from the outset, topped off with an opportunity to be involved in filming for BBC Gardeners’ World.

“We are really grateful to Chris and the team for all their hard work and support – the garden perfectly captures the very best of the Dales, and the silver medal is testament to the brilliant job they’ve done.”

Hay Time was set up in 2006 to change that, working alongside farmers and partners 717 hectares ( almost three square miles) of degraded meadows across the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland are now on the road to being restored, helping to bring this precious habitat back from the brink.

The project has also included educational work in schools and hundreds of public events to raise awareness.

Species-rich hay meadows are of high nature conservation value, supporting more priority wildlife and plant species than any other habitat type. A traditionally managed meadow can support up to 120 different species of wildflowers and other plants, as well as invertebrates, bats, mammals and birds. Hay meadows are a vital habitat for many species of bumblebee – some of which are in decline or have already become extinct.

The loss of species-rich meadows and grasslands is unparalleled in the history of nature conservation in the UK.

When the YDMT Hay Time project first started in 2006 only 1,000 hectares - less than four square miles – of species-rich hay meadow habitat remained in the whole of the UK.

The Yorkshire Dales contain about a sixth of the UK’s remaining upland hay meadows.

Over a decade later its work has helped secure the future of 717 hectares of ‘degraded’ meadow in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland and thousands of people have enjoyed, learnt about and contributed to their conservation.

It is also understood that traditionally managed meadows play a part in tackling climate change as they store more carbon than species-poor meadows and retain rainwater and nitrates better, so helping to reduce flood risk and water pollution.

“Their importance for wildlife will grow as climate change impacts on other habitats.

For those keen to see natural wildflower meadows in their full blooming glory, the YDMT has created a map showing some of its most spectacular species rich meadows, complete with walk guides.

The walks can be found at Grassington meadows, Wharfedale; Yockenthwaite meadows, Langstrothdale; Askrigg Bottoms Meadows, Wensleydale;

Bell Sykes Coronation Meadows, Slaidburn;

Dentdale Meadows; and Muker Coronation Meadows, Swaledale.

Their locations can be found at: https://www.ydmt.org/yorkshire-dales-wildflower-meadows

Mr Myers has helped raise awareness of the special hay meadow features of the Dales with his show garden which has been viewed by thousands of visitors to Chatsworth Flower Show and so continue the work of the Trust in helping preserve this special habitat.

The garden show is open to the public until June 10.

For those unable to travel to the venue, there will be highlights of the exhibits, including a look at Mr Myers’ Hay Time in the Dales garden, on BBC2 Gardeners’ World tomorrow night, Friday, June 8, at 8pm.

Support towards projects the YDMT run is always appreciated and essential for the long-term success in preserving the natural habitat of the district.

For more information about how you can support YDMT’s Hay Time project, visit www.ydmt.org/haytime or call 015242 51002.