Sunflowers at Rhosili
When the sunflowers are at their best the spectacular display draws visitors and pollinators in their thousands to Rhosili.
Can I see sunflowers in 2021?
Yes, there will be sunflowers on the Vile in summer 2021. Due to a cold spring the sunflowers will bloom later this year, we expect them in late August and into September. As we rotate the crops, the sunflowers will be in a different location than previous years. Please follow signs when you arrive. Due to the nature of farmland please be aware that the ground is very uneven in places and is not suitable for buggies or wheelchair users.
Local farmer, Rob Morgan, has also planted sunflowers on his land on the Vile at Rhosili and we are pleased that the display will be benefitting wildlife and enjoyed by visitors. Information is available on his social media about the planting (Gower Fresh Christmas Trees) .
Pollinator friendly farming
It is exciting that we will once again growing crops on the Vile this year. Last year the covid-19 pandemic encouraged us to let all our arable fields go fallow, which is a practise that dates to medieval times that helps the land recover. This year we will continue with the sustainable crop rotation that was started in 2018. Sunflowers, linseed and cover crop mix have been sown this spring and we can expect the disturbed ground to once again stimulate a good showing of poppies from the existing seed bank.
The crops we’ve chosen enhance our nature friendly farm and will provide an abundance of flowering plants across the warmer months, which will be extremely good for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Later in the year birds such as skylarks, goldfinches and linnets will benefit as our crops turn to seed.
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.