Spring gets a helping hand on the coast

Tulips in bloom above Whitehaven harbour, Cumbria

Every year since 2008, when the National Trust took over the management of the Haig Colliery site, our volunteers have rolled up their sleeves for a bulb-planting frenzy.

Every autumn between 3000 and 10,000 bulbs are lovingly tucked into the soil around the entry and exit points to the clifftop site so that come the spring there will be a riot of early colour to greet you.

A dazzling display of daffs at the foot of the Candlestick
Daffodil display at the Candlestick, Whitehaven, Cumbria

A dazzling display

The show begins in January and February with snowdrops, quickly followed by crocuses and dwarf irises. Into March and through to June comes daffodils, Chionodoxa, Ornithogalum, Ixia, Anemone, fritillary, grape hyacinth, hyacinths, tulips, bluebells, alliums, chives and Eremurus.

Alliums dancing in the spring sunshine
Allium flowers close up, Whitehaven Coast, Cumbria
" My personal favourites are the snowdrops for being the first flowers of the new year, signalling the season to come and lighting up the dark ground. But I also love the exotic patterning on the snake's head fritillary, then there’s the crazy looking Allium vineale 'Hair' and of course the 'Real Time' tulip with its raggedy fringes… too many favourites!"
- Chris, Whitehaven Coast Ranger
Delicately bowed fritillary heads bobbing in the breeze
Snake's head fritillary at Whitehaven Coast, Cumbria

Planting big for wildlife

Initially we planted in clumps but now we do mass plantings, removing the grass and burying it deep so that once the bulbs are in we have bare soil on top. We use this bare soil to sow wildflower seeds which take over once the bulbs have finished, extending the flowering period to cover most of the year. Having flowers year round is not only pretty but helps boost biodiversity providing more food sources for more insects which in turn provide food for birds and other animals.

Where wildflower planting welcomes wildlife and you!
Wildflowers along a path Whitehaven Coast, Cumbria

Top spots

Good places to see the mass planting with wildflower overseeding are at the Candlestick, Basket Road, Haig Pit and the Ravenhill track.

Other patches of colour can be found at Solway Road, North Row, South Shore and Wellington Terrace, with planted wild daffodils and ransoms around the trees near Haig Enterprise Park.

Haig Pit softened by spring bulbs and a bit of sunshine
Haig Pit in spring, Whitehaven Coast, Cumbria