Hundreds of wildflowers have been planted at Normanton Down on the Stonehenge World Heritage Site to help gives butterflies a home during the summer months.
Flowers such as classic chalk grassland herbs, common rockrose and wild thyme are among many more that make up the wildflower meadow that was created on four iron-age barrows across the ancient site.
The wildflowers, which were all grown from seed and collected from Salisbury Plain, will serve as a food source for the caterpillars of the iconic chalk downland butterfly and many pollinators during the summer season.
The work for the project was completed by the RSPB, who manage the Normanton Down nature reserve, which is known for its ground nesting birds and downland wildlife.
RSPB Site Manager, Patrick Cashman, said: “These barrows already support fragments of a once more widespread flower-rich downland landscape. We are taking this opportunity to top them up with key butterfly food plants, so their warm southern flanks can become new homes for butterflies from nearby Salisbury Plain and help provide stepping stones in the wider landscape.”
The wildflower planting was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as a part of ‘Save Our Magnificent Meadows’ project, which is a national partnership of 11 organisations led by Plantlife to help transform the fortunes of vanishing meadows, grasslands and wildlife.
English Heritage’s Stonehenge World Heritage Site co-ordinator, Beth Thomas, said: “We are delighted to see the historic monument being treasured for their relict ancient grassland, and having their profile raised as resource to help reconnect the natural and historic landscape.”
Through the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign, you can help tackle the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside space – whether it’s a dead wood pile for mini beats and other insects, putting up a nestbox for a house sparrow, or creating a pond that will support a number of different species.
To find out more about Giving Nature a Home and to receive a free guide packed full of simple, fun activities to help wildlife where you live, visit: rspb.org.uk/homes
1. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.
2. Giving Nature a Home is the RSPB’s latest campaign, aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces – whether it by planting pollen-rich plants to attract bees and butterflies, putting up a nestbox for a house sparrow, or creating a pond that will support a number of different species. The charity hopes to inspire people across the UK to create a million new homes for nature.
3. Normanton Down lies within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, and comprises 47 ha of former arable land in the process of being reverted to species-rich chalk grassland, through a management agreement with the private owner. Reseeding of the arable land has taken place over the last three years, and the diversity of wild flowers, along with butterflies and other invertebrates, is gradually increasing. The site is also being managed to encourage breeding stone-curlews and other birds such as lapwings and corn buntings.
4. The wildflowers that are being planted on the site are; the classic chalk grassland herbs; kidney and horseshoe vetch, common rockrose, wild thyme, dropwort, harebell, small scabious and devil’s-bit scabious.
5. Iconic downland butterflies expected on the site include; chalkhill blue, adonis blue, brown argus and marsh fritillary.
The National Trust offer guided tours though the Stonehenge Landscape: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stonehenge-landscape/
The Stonehenge News Blog