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.
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.