Thursday, 5 June 2014

Jewels of the Limestone Landscape: Summer wildflowers are blooming at our Deep Dale reserve.

Joe Costley
Reserves Manager

Our Deep Dale nature reserve in the Derbyshire Dales has a long flowering season, glorious at any time.  Yet when I visited earlier this week, its flora seemed to be at the absolute zenith of its riches.  

Deep Dale
I was there to review grazing management with our tenant farmer, cattle having been turned out earlier than usual this year. This is in line with the way that the dales were farmed historically and we believe that it makes sense to follow that tradition in some years.  Having the same fixed dates every year cannot benefit everything and does not reflect seasonal variations in the way that would have happened historically.  It is early days, but we are pleased with the way things are going so far.

The visit was also an excuse to see lots of wonderful plants, and there were "wow" moments at almost every turn.  The spectacular show of early purple orchid flowers has finished, but these are replaced by a host of others including colombine (blue and white versions), lily-of-the-valley, bird's nest orchid, mountain pansy and common spotted orchid.  Here's few I captured on camera:


Bird's Nest Orchid


There were flower buds emerging on the small colony of dark red helleborines and some big plants of moonwort on old mounds of lead spoil.  I was also delighted to find a rosette of saw-wort, which is rare in Derbyshire and has never previously been recorded on the reserve.  This is typical of Deep Dale; never predictable, but always rewarding.


  1. Thanks for an excellent read and some beautiful photos. Can we have some scientific names of the plants featured in future posts please? It would be great if you could give both the scientific and common names so that you're catering for readers from a variety of audiences. I look forward to your future content!

  2. Hi Zoe - a very reasonable request. We'll make sure we include both in all blog posts from now on.