Martin Down National Nature Reserve

Martin Down chalk grassland meadow

Martin Down chalk grassland meadow (Photo by Richard Russell)

I’m glad to say that New Years Day 2013 began with blue skies and gorgeous winter sunshine for many across the UK, and what a great way to start the year.

Whilst organising my schedule and plans for the Meadow Project in 2013, I came across some photos that a friend had taken of a wildflower meadow, in Martin Down. He had visited Martin Down in late summer 2012 and had been so impressed with what he found he emailed me photos of the visit.

Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angusifolium) Photo by Richard Russell

Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angusifolium) Photo by Richard Russell

So to kick start the year and get you all inspired to plant some British Wildflower seeds this blog is dedicated to him, his photos and to all the lovely wildflowers we will hopefully see in 2013.

Field Scabious Photo by Richard Russell

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) Photo by Richard Russell

Martin Down is a national nature reserve in Hampshire and is jointly owned and managed by Natural England and the Hampshire Country Council.

It consists of 342 Ha of mainly lowland chalk grassland and notable plants found in the area include toadflax, field fleawort, early gentian and lesser century. Furthermore, twelve orchard species have been identified, including burnt-tip, green winged, greater butterfly and frog.

Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris)

Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris). Photo by Richard Russell

In addition to its excellent wealth of wildflowers Martin Down is home to an outstanding range of butterflies from Silver-Spotted Skipper and Adonis Blue on very short turf to the Dark Green Fritiliary and Marbled White in the longer grassland. Hares, which have seen a steep decline on farmland across the UK, are also at home in Martin Down alongside ground nesting birds such as Skylarks and Grey Partridge and Warblers and Turtle Doves who particularly like the scrub land areas for nesting.

For detailed information on this stunning site please click on the Martin Down chalk grassland image at the start of this blog.

Harebells in grassland

Harebells in grassland

On the day that Richard visited Martin Down he photographed Harebell which grow in grassy places, dunes and heaths and flower from July to September. And Rosebay Willowherb which colonises burnt ground, woodland edges and roadside banks. Although Rosebay Willowherb was introduced from North America in the 18th Century as a garden plant it quickly became naturalised throughout Britain and provides a valuable source of nectar for bees during the day and moths during the night.

Wild Marjoram. Photo by Richard Russell

Wild Marjoram. Photo by Richard Russell

Commom Knapweed (Centaurea nigra). Photo by Richard Russell

Commom Knapweed (Centaurea nigra). Photo by Richard Russell

Richard also photographed Field Scabious, a pastel meadow beauty which flowers from July to September and grows in grassy places and Wild Marjoram  which is an absolute favourite for a wide variety of pollinators.

Wild Marjoram is a fragrant herb with a purple flower which could easily be overlooked but it’s worth remembering as a garden plant for those of you that want an easy perennial that will attract lots of pollinators.

Common Knapweed grows on course grass and roadsides and so if often thought of as a weed but again this is an excellent nectar source and actually a very pretty flower it deserves its place amongst all the gorgeous wildflowers on this stunning national nature reserve.

So if you do get the chance this summer try and take the time to visit Martin Down or any wildflower meadow near you, I promise it will lift your spirits and leave you feeling good about the world.

Here’s to the Wildflower Revolution!


4 responses

    • Hi Lesley, thanks for your comment. I haven’t visited Martin Down yet but I plan to visit this summer. I’m really looking forward to it. And as you say,fingers crossed for decent weather this year.

  1. It does look great, I’m hoping to grab a days visit sometime this summer and do a follow up blog. Thanks for your comments and hope you get to visit Martin Down soon.

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