Chalk-loving wildflowers thrive here!
The North Wessex Downs lies at the heart of the chalk band that stretches across southern England and around 9% of chalk grassland in the UK lies within the AONB. This grassland is one of the most biologically rich and diverse habitats to be found in the country. Traditionally grazed by sheep and rabbits, the springy turf provides a rich habitat for chalk-loving wild flowers such as the nectar-rich scabious and the pyramidal orchid (see image).
Other important chalk grassland flowers include the early gentian (a very rare and scheduled protected species), the musk orchid and burnt orchid and chalk eyebright.
The best time to see these beautiful flowers is in spring and summer. The very rare early gentian appears in April and May; flowering time for pyramidal orchids is June and July. Pewsey Downs National Nature Reserve is a good place to see chalk downland wild flowers (see map below). Wiltshire Wildlife Trust also have a number of sites which support chalk-loving wildflowers including Morgans Hill, High Clear Down and Ham Hill. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust’s (BBOWT) wildflower-rich nature reserves include Watts Bank and Seven Barrows.
For more information about wildflowers, when and where to see them and identification visit Plantlife.