Sunday, 24 April 2011

Purple, yellow and green

WILTSHIRE Wildlife Trust's Clattinger Farm is a corker - it supports excellent unimproved flower rich meadows, and is at least an annual pilgrimage for me.

Field ablaze with cowslips

Currently it's a sea of cowslips, with some going over snake's-head frittilary flowers and countless green winged orchids.  There are also many other meadow specialists in leaf making up the sward (such as great burnet, betony and sawwort) that come into their own later in May and June, before the hay is cut.
Snake's-head fritillary

This is one of the few Wiltshire sites that support snake's-head fritillary- it relies on damp, unimproved meadows which have never been ploughed - ever!

Mixture of cowslips and orchids

 The common, but lovely, self heal

Adder's tongue fern - an unusual rarity that can only be found in ancient grassland
Two stunning green-winged orchids

A lighter form of the green-winged orchid

 An overwhelming number of orchids


On one field the cowslips were showing up where the ridges and furrows in the grassland were - possibly a sign of drainage or ancient ploughing, before the days of artificial fertilisers and weed killers

The bright yellow kingcup, growing in a ditch


  1. What a lovely collection of photographs. It's a shame there aren't more areas like this in the country.

  2. What beautiful meadows. What is it about ploughed that the cowslip dislikes?

  3. I suspect that cowslips can spread to new ground given enough time. Modern intensive grassland management does not let them establish, possibly cos their seeds don't travel far from the parent plant and where the soil is fertile the other species out compete them. They cannot compete with either tall grasses (where grazing or cutting is absent) or grasslands where the ground has been heavily fertilised and the grasses are very vigorous; they get shaded out. Cowslips can tolerate poor, open soil and thrive where grazing keeps other species in check. Their leaves grow in low rosettes with a low growing point that does not get nibbled out by sheep or cattle, so grazing is not a problem.

  4. What a beautiful area to walk in. I love the spring flowers, it's my favourite time of year.


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