Plants sown by The National Trust for insects and birds on The Vile at Rhossil in Gower

Visit to The Vile at Rhossili (1)

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Everyone is talking about the wonderful fields of sunflowers planted by the National Trust on the old medieval field system called The Vile at Rhossili, on Gower, South Wales. Thousands of people have been making a bee-line for these fields to take an essential selfie among the giant flowers. Not so much attention is being paid to the surrounding fields which have also been planted with an amazing array of common British wild plants that will produce nectar for insects and seeds for birds.

On my first visit last week, I was not able to walk far from the car park, not able to join the throngs wending their way in a continuous stream to the sunflowers located closer to the tip of the headland that overlooks the famous Worm’s Head. I had to content myself with exploring surrounding fields but these were home to an enormous variety of other colourful plants such as thistles, knapweed, dock, poppies and teasels together with grasses, leguminous flowers and cereals.

Some of the meadows had just been mown for hay which was left to dry on the ground. The earthen embankments dividing the long narrow fields were also home to a delightful patchwork of wild plants. I am afraid that I do not know the names of all the plants I saw but I think you will get a good idea from the pictures of just how glorious it is amidst this newly created biodiverse landscape.

The flower project follows an established idea to create refuges and provide food for birds, particularly migratory ones. A few years ago, I photographed and wrote about a similar project by a local resident who had been setting aside an area of specially sown flowers and cereal plants for birds over a number of years at Nitten Field, about a mile from Rhossili as the crow flies.

14 Replies to “Visit to The Vile at Rhossili (1)”

  1. Dear Jessica – I love your photographs, and I love it even more when you describe the places you are showing us…. you have recently said that you haven’t been able to walk far… I hope you are recovering and wish you all the best.
    Kind regards, Sarah

  2. Thanks, John. These are not natural meadows. The sunflowers and all the other plants have been sown as a crop. Some will be harvested directly by the wildlife, and some by the landowners for bird feed.

  3. Ah yes, I have seen the sunflower photos on people’s Instagram & facebook feeds. People have no imagination, do they? Unlike you. I love the wildflowers (and the photos from last year, in particular).

  4. there were broad smiles on the crowds of visitors wandering the sunflower fields at Rhosili yesterday…

  5. Thanks, Emma. The National Trust have organised walks around the fields several times a day, explaining what it is all about, but most visitors choose to make their own way there and potentially miss a lot.

  6. Yes, Rob. Being there is a delightful experience and is bringing a great deal of joy to people as well as the wildlife. I actually made it there myself a few days later. Hope you were smiling along with the rest.

  7. Yes. I did eventually get as far as the sunflower fields a day or so later. More pictures to be posted soon. The sunflowers were spectacular and worth the effort of getting there.

  8. I have a soft spot for thistles, having lived among fields in transition when I was young (from farms to housing developments) and during my time there, a wonderland of all kinds of plants and a great place for us kids to roam.

  9. Not many people have a soft spot for thistles, especially gardeners and farmers, but birds love them – and they are a sign of now increasingly valuable wild spots that are so great for encouraging biodiversity.

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