Sunflowers at Rhosili
When the sunflowers are at their best the spectacular display draws visitors and pollinators in their thousands to Rhosili.
Due to the impact of coronavirus, we were unable to plant the sunflowers on the Vile in 2020. We had to make the difficult decision to pause the conservation programme to save vital charitable funds.
The fields were left fallow, resting the land comes with its own conservation benefits and can help improve soil condition and fertility. Protecting and conserving our soils and their health is key in achieving our land and nature ambition.
Visitors over the summer of 2020 could still see sunflowers. Local farmer, Rob Morgan, planted sunflowers on his land on the Vile at Rhosili and we were pleased that the display was benefitting wildlife and enjoyed by visitors. Information is available on his social media about the planting (Gower Fresh Christmas Trees) .
On the fields that we look after there was still 15 hectares of wildflower meadows for wildlife to enjoy and provide a rich food source for pollinators over the summer.
What we've done in the past
Previously we'd planted the sunflowers as part of our new approach to farming this stretch of beautiful coastline in a wildlife friendly way, transforming it into a haven for rare animals, birds and wild flowers.
Four rangers and eighty volunteers spent their time faithfully recreating the 12th Century patchwork of fields on The Vile, creating 2,000 metres of new banks and hedges which had previously been removed after the Second World War in favour of modern, intensive farming methods.
Six of the fields were converted back into 17 smaller fields, and purposely planted with specially selected flowering crops which have included, sunflowers, poppies, lavender and lupins punctuating the crops of millet, wheat, oats, buckwheat, spelt, linseed and barley with ribbons of vibrant colour.
Harvesting the crops
When we were able to plant the sunflowers we've harvested the crops in September using an old 1970s combine harvester, a machine which is small enough to turn in the restored narrow strip fields.
To help encourage wildlife, the team actively leave behind some of the crop. Seeds dry out and attract birds, for example, linnets are attracted to the linseed and the remaining sunflower seeds will feed overwintering birds on the coastline.