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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Sheep replace mowers at Wakehurst
A flock of Southdown sheep has been brought in to act as "nature's lawnmowers" as a Sussex country estate bids to preserve its grasslands.

Wakehurst Place - Kew's country garden at Ardingly - has big areas of meadows and heathland alongside its Millennium Seed Bank and other attractions.

Spokesman Iain Parkinson said sheep grazing created better conditions for plants and flowers to grow.

The flock is due to expand soon with more than 20 lambs expected to be born.

Restore grassland

Mr Parkinson said: "We are planning to restore the species-rich grassland for future generations.

"We have a duty to protect and conserve these areas... such as Bloomers Valley and unimproved meadow in the Loder Valley reserve."

Wakehurst Place said tractors and lawnmowers could compact soil, whereas sheep grazing left areas exposed for wild flower seeds to germinate.

The sheep have a newly-built lambing area at the site, where the newborns will be housed and information on the Conservation Grazing Project is available.


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