June is one of the best times of the year to spot wildflowers that bring a splash of colour to our Sidmouth sanctuary in Devon. Find out what you may find on your next visit to us.
We've reduced the frequency of mowing on the walkways and paths on-site to help provide a boost to the wildflowers and the pollinating insects that depend on them. And as a result, the site is currently blooming.
Here are five wildflowers to look out for on your next visit:
Banks of oxeye daisy, nodding gently together in the wind, can provide eye-catching displays in field edges and meadows in summer. Traditionally the plant was known as 'moon daisy' because this bright flower can seem to glow on midsummer evenings.
Unobtrusive and relatively small, Selfheal is a low-growing, creeping plant that likes the short turf of grasslands, roadside verges or even lawns. Its clusters of violet flowers appear in summer. The plant was traditionally used as a wound dressing and for treating sore throats – hence its name.
This medium to tall wildflower is more pink than red, but the Red Campion is a summer-long stunner. The flowers are popular with pollinators, but some bumblebee species, like the buff-tailed, have short tongues and cannot reach the campion's nectar. So they bite through the back of the flower for a drink, a strategy known as nectar-robbing.
Greater stitchwort's star-shaped, white flowers are a common sight in woodlands, along hedgerows and roadside verges. It is the foodplant of the yellow underwing moth, which in turn is prey for the brown long-eared bat – which also frequents hedgerows and woodlands. The similar but smaller flowers of the lesser stitchwort are coming into bloom now, so look out for these.
Often overlooked, the bush vetch is a widespread, scrambling plant found along the edges of hedgerows, verges and grassy places. The pale lilac-blue flowers attract many pollinating insects and seem to be a favourite of the common carder bee at The Donkey Sanctuary.
Helen Cavilla, one of our wonderful Conservation Officers, says: "The changes are not only creating glorious walkways, they are increasing the availability of habitat for a wider variety of wildlife.
"By varying the timing of the mowing, as well as leaving areas long or keeping them short, the diversity and abundance of flowers 'on offer' is increased. This will not only attract a wider range of pollinating insects, but the reduction in mowing will also benefit many other invertebrates such as grasshoppers and crickets. Further up the food chain, insect feeders such as bats and birds will reap the benefits."