Wildflowers at Stowe
Enjoy swathes of wildflowers emerging throughout the gardens in a wide variety of colour and species. Discover what to look out for and download 'A mindful meadow meander' walk map as you take a route to relaxation and get closer to nature.
What’s special at Stowe?
An area not to miss is the Grecian Valley which is coming to life and bursting with wildflowers. The Valley is carefully cultivated each year to encourage wildflowers through a specific method undertaken called 'flail cutting' by our gardens team. In late July/early August after the wildflowers have finished flowering and are going to seed the grass is taken away for hay making. This ensures the ground doesn’t become too fertile as wildflowers like soil that is quite poor. Fewer nutrients in the soil encourages a wider variety of wildflowers and discourages vigorous grasses. This process is naturally helped along by the natural springs that occur in the Grecian Valley which helps create diversity of wildflowers.
Some of the meadows we cut ourselves and use the 'green hay' to spread on less floriferous areas. We also use the grass in our own compost. It's mixed with leaves and wood chip to make a mulch for the borders and shrubs. Other meadows we work with local farmers to remove the hay.
Every year one of the most brilliant displays is of spotted orchids – hundreds can be seen at the far end of the Valley. We haven’t planted them – they have occurred naturally over time thanks to our work maintaining the area for wildflowers. Keep your eyes peeled next June and July to see them flower again.
New this year...
This year we invite you to explore the far reaches of our wildflower meadows as you follow our new mown path routes to areas not usually accessible and taking in far reaching views across the garden and park. Our mindful meadow meander takes you on a route to relaxation and invites you to sit in our sensory circles, breathe deeply, listen to the hum of insects and appreciate the delicacy of nature around you.
The wildflower walk route includes uneven, grass paths and so isn't pushchair or wheelchair friendly.
Why we manage our meadows
Nature knows best
We try and do as little as possible with our meadows - nature knows best! But there are some things we can do to help some areas
Wildflowers are used to growing in poor quality soil, so mowing helps remove nutrients
Letting flowers flourish
By cutting the grass we reduce the vigour of it, giving less competition to the wildflowers and allowing them to flourish
What wildflowers can I see?
Commonly seen along roadsides, you'll find these pleasant flowers by Pebble Alcove.
In the autumn of 2018, 125,000 bluebells were planted along Bell Gate Drive. You'll also find them dotted throughout the Sleeping Wood and Grecian Valley.
The butterflies just love this wildflower. It’s quite a spectacle to see hundreds of butterflies in the Grecian Valley on a hot summer’s day.
With dark pink petals, you'll spot them swaying in the wind with bees buzzing to and fro.
Look out for these bright flowers as you walk down Bell Gate Drive from the New Inn visitor centre to the gardens entrance. You'll also find them along the Oxford Avenue.
Common spotted orchid
Discover these delightful flowers in the parkland, along Lord Cobham's walk, in the Grecian Valley and along Gurnet's Walk.
And it doesn't stop there. Yellow rattle lights up Thanet Walk, lady's bedstraw borders the edge of the Elysian Fields and thousands of buttercups brighten the areas around your picnic. Across the gardens millions of wildflowers come to life in the late summer months.