Nitten Field – flowers for insects and birds

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For the fourteenth year running, one of the ancient “Vile” fields at the tip of the Gower Peninsula near Middleton in South Wales, has been specially planted with flowers to encourage insects in summer months and to provide a wide variety of seeds for birds in winter. It is a wonderful sight. This year there is a profusion of short yellow corn marigolds beneath tall bearded stalks of hybrid barley.  When the late evening sun slants low over the field, their whiskers glisten in the golden light. Interspersed through the three acre expanse and standing proud are the large heads of dwarf sunflowers just coming into bloom right now. The pale blue linseed has already flowered and their seeds are ripening. The poppies seem once more to be elusive. Around three sides of the field straggley “stand-and-deliver”, a type of perrenial chicory, forms a wide high border. The blooms are nearly finished but the scattered pale blue flowering remnants are lovely with their spectactular deep blue anthers. The central path through the field is bordered by white wild carrot flowers.

This private field is owned by Gordon and Beryl Howe, who have posted signs around it to tell visitors on the nearby public footpaths, who might be intrigued by the unusual and colourful display, all about this conservation project – you can read the poster with all the details yourself in the gallery of images below. [You can click on the images to see them in a slideshow and enlarge them].

6 Replies to “Nitten Field – flowers for insects and birds”

  1. Such a wonderful idea. I tried to find out the derivation of a ‘vile field’ – presumably feudal / medieval (villein’s field?) – but the book that might help is where I am not right now. I was helpfully offered some synonyms including foul bailiwick, offensive area, despicable area and loathsome area. None of which quite captures the pastoral magic.

  2. Yes, a great idea.
    Apparently the word “vile” also spelt “viel” is the old Gower pronunciation of field (Rhossili – A Village Background by Robert Lucas, published by The Gower Society 1989). It is an area “divided into many small strips separated from one another by low grass banks called landshares. The object of this ancient medieval system was that people should have several strips in different parts of the vile, ensuring that each had his fair share of good and poor land”.

  3. Wonderful sight Jessica. I came across something similar in Co. Tyrone, and stopped along with another passing photographer. Unfortunately, the land owner was not very welcoming and arrived to see us off! She did cool down when we apologised and explained that a lot of people were stopping and picking the flowers. She also said she referred to the field as “a living bird table” which we thought was a great way of putting it.

  4. “A living bird table” is a wonderful way of describing the field. Such a brilliant idea to use land in this way to increase biodiversity. I think more people should think about doing it if they have spare land. The costs were mostly sponsored by various local interested organisations and I am sure that would be the case wherever someone wanted to do a similar conservation project.

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