Wildflower highlights in the South West
The landscape of Britain is bursting with life during spring and summer, with a remarkable array of wildflowers.
Here in the South West, we look after 16,000 hectares of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as seven National Nature Reserves, many of which are incredibly rich for wildflowers.
Read on to find out where the best places to see wildflowers are.
Fontmell and Melbury Downs, Dorset
The rolling chalk downlands of Fontmell and Melbury provide a rich habitat for a variety of wildflowers. Take a look for an array of ochids such as common spotted, fragrant, bee and pyramidal. In the short turf and on the antihills, chalk milkwort, wild thyme and the wonderfully named squinancywort grow.
Golden Cap hay meadows, Dorset
Since the introduction of modern farming methods and the increased use of fertilisers, we've seen a dramatic loss of flower-rich meadows. However, all is not lost as there are some fantastic hay meadows out there for you to discover.
The hay meadows of Golden Cap come alive in summer with Green-winged Orchid, knapweeds and Adder's-tongue Fern.
The meadows of Hartland Moor and Middlebere on the Corfe Castle estate is also worth a visit.
Leigh Woods, Somerset
On the plateau above Avon Gorge, the broadleaf woodland of Leigh Woods is home to many native trees and flowering plants. Some. such as Wilmott's Whitebeam and Bristol Rock-cress. only occur in the Avon Gorge.
Springtime brings an abundance of bluebells and wood anemones, while the summer months offer relaxing, shady walks. The red and golden hues of autumn, combined with an interesting array of fungi, are particularly beautiful.
Holnicote heath, Somerset
The lower slopes of Dunkery Hill support lowland heath – a mix of Western gorse, bristle bent grass and bell heather. On the higher slopes around Dunkery Beacon you'll see upland heather moorland, where heather and bilberry (or whortleberry) dominate.
Rodborough Common, Gloucestershire
The limestone grasslands of Rodborough Commons allow wild flowers to thrive here. The waves of Early Purple, Spotted, Fragrant and Pyramidal orchids, along with the profusion of colourful flowers such as Rockrose, Bird's-foot Trefoil and vetches are a sight to behold.
Sand Point and Middle Hope in Somerset is also home to lots of lime-loving flowers.
Studland sand dunes, Dorset
The sand dunes behind Studland's Knoll beach lead into large tracts of heathland which support swathes of wild flowers and has the most per acre in Britain. Look out for Yellow Horned-poppy, Sea-Holly and Marsh Helleborine.
The Lizard, Cornwall
The Lizard coastline on a sunny day in May is hard to beat, with the blue, white and pink of spring squill, sea campion and thrift carpeting the slopes. The scarce and unusual plants are particularly interesting, such as the dwarf rush and land quillwort.
Take a look at our other wildlife guides: