The Colley Hill rare wild flower - Meadow Clary

The rare Meadow Clary © Marc Russell

The rare Meadow Clary

This rare wild flowering plant has been recorded on Colley Hill in Surrey for over a hundred years. In June and July the long-lived perennial has striking violet-blue sage-like flowers and now doesn’t grow anywhere else in Surrey.

A laboratory investigation carried out on behalf of Plantlife International shows that Colley Hill’s Meadow Clary derives from a natural source and hasn’t been introduced. The plant is more common in France and Switzerland and it’s believed that it was around in glacial times and remained in southern England after the ice melted.

Looking after our rare flower
For this precious plant to survive we must manage and protect its habitat and our Belted Galloway cattle do a very good job in controlling the unwanted scrub. Unfortunately both rabbits and deer are partial to its leaves and so the plants are covered with temporary cages during flowering and seeding.

Derek Hill, a well respected local botanist, has also been caring for our Meadow Clary and other rare plants for the past 33 years. He’s been granted a license by Natural England to propagate seedlings to bulk up the local population so that it might become self-sustaining.

Some of the seed from Colley Hill’s Meadow Clary has been placed at the National Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place too.