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Flowers a blooming wonder in Oaksey
9:40am Friday 27th April 2012 in News
Purple haze has descended over a nature reserve in Oaksey as the meadows of a rare flower come into bloom.
Snakeshead fritillaries are coming into their peak at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Clattinger Farm nature reserve, near Oaksey, this week offering delights for walkers.
The flowers form a purple haze across the meadows, in particular in Bridge Field meadow, and have a chequered ‘snakeskin’ effect that gives them their name.
A group of volunteers went out this week for a closer look with the aim of counting them all and at the last count there were nearly 1,000.
“This annual exercise lets us know whether our careful hay cutting and grazing regime is maintaining the correct conditions to keep them blooming for years to come,” says the trust’s head of adaptation, John Rattray.
“This year we’ve had such varied weather so might have slightly fewer flowers than last year, but then the cold spell will have delayed some of their flowering, so we should get a longer flowering time span.”
Clattinger Farm, a site of special scientific interest, is part of a conservation area as it is deemed internationally important for its hay meadow flowers, including the snakeshead fritillary.
Once gathered by the armful, the snakeshead fritillary is now nationally scarce, confined to less than 30 sites in river basins of the Midlands, East Anglia and Southern England, making it one of our rarest meadow plants.
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