Follow the buzz: this summer’s best UK wildflower spectacles | Public Holidays in UK

Deep Valley, Peak District, Derbyshire

This highland grassland in the Peak District, near Buxton, is one of 23 nature reserves in the UK owned by conservation organization Plantlife and is bursting with wildflowers each summer (use the website’s map to find the closest one). It has always been popular with botanists. The variety of species you can spot here includes drifts of yellow mountain pansies, early purple orchids, pink musk mallow and purple tinted heather speedwell. Plantlife is also known for campaigns such as No Mow May and National Meadows Day (July 2) when it organizes wildlife identification classes, scythe competitions and arts activities at many of its locations.
Free access (a free trail guide can be downloaded from the website) but note that a local farmer grazes cattle on the reserve from July to November. plantlife.org.uk

Super Bloom, Tower of London

Superbloom, London at the Tower of London
About 20 million wildflower seeds were sown in the moat of the Tower of London. Photo: Historic Royal Palaces

From WWII allotment gardens to an ice rink and a poppy field, the Tower of London moat has seen more reinventions than the wallpaper at No 11, a tradition set to continue in 2022 with the new Superbloom exhibition. More than 20 million pollinator-friendly flower seeds have been sown, ushering in a flood of blooming cornflowers, poppies, toadflax and more when the event opens on June 1st. At this floral celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, visitors can stroll in or slide down an elegant four-lane slide (upcycled from a 2013 installation in Cliveden). After the event ends in September, the bee and bird friendly landscape will remain in place.
£12 Adult/£6 Children, superloom.hrp.org.uk

Pollinator Pathmaker, Eden Project, Cornwall

Bee pollinator trail in the Eden Project
A garden designed from a pollinator perspective

“If pollinators designed gardens, what would people see?” That is the concept behind the Pollinator Pathmaker, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s new garden at the Eden Project. A living work of art, the garden was designed with the taste of insects (rather than the gardener) in mind, using a custom algorithm and a specially curated palette of plants. The 55-metre-long garden, which is in full bloom for the first time this month, is part of the Eden Project’s Create a Buzz programme, which is investigating the role, the plight and the recovery of native British pollinators.
£32.50 Adult11 Children (tickets are also annual tickets), edenproject.com

Central Mosque, Cambridge

Central Mosque, Cambridge
Elements of the Qur’an’s Gardens of Paradise were combined with species-rich planting. Photo: Howard Rice

A city-centre mosque might seem like an unlikely place to find a pollinator-friendly oasis, but in this recently built ‘eco’ mosque, both the Islamic garden at its entrance and an adjacent community garden are pioneeringly sustainable. The Islamic-style garden is a collaboration between garden designer Emma Clark and ecological landscape architects Urquhart & Hunt (whose beaver-friendly garden Rewilding Britain is a highlight of this year’s wild-themed Chelsea Flower Show). The Islamic style garden incorporates elements of the two Paradise Gardens described in the Koran and the naturalistic English planting designed for biodiversity.
Admission is free but donations are welcome, cambridgecentralmosque.org

RHS Wildlife Garden, Surrey

RHS Hilltop Opening
Wisley is the backdrop for the RHS Hilltop Center. Photo Credit: Oliver Dixon/RHS/PA

Part of the new RHS Hilltop Centre, the £35m Home of Gardening Science in Wisley, this 1-hectare wild garden is all about bee and bug friendly plants. Designed by Ann-Marie Powell, it bridges the gap between gardens and conservation areas, with all plants selected from the RHS Plants for Pollinators list. Two large pools provide plenty of space for aquatic and marginal species — including purple irises and the peppy-named pikeperch — while a mini model garden demonstrates how to create a wildlife-friendly garden at home.
£15.95 Adults/£7.95 Children (free for RHS members), rhs.org.uk

Uist, Outer Hebrides

Machair Meadow in Summer at Balranald RSPB.
Machair grassland in bloom at Balranald RSPB, North Uist. Photo: Realimage/Alamy

Between June and August each year, rare machair habitats (low-lying, exposed shores of sand and shell) in north-west Scotland and the west coast of Ireland are studded with species such as sea rocket, sea morning glory and rare Hebridean swamp orchids. In the Outer Hebrides, where traditional crofting practices help the machair thrive, one of the best areas to see it is on the island of North Uist. Here, in the RSPB’s Balranald Nature Reserve, there are weekly 90-minute guided walks from now until the end of July, where you can spot the rainbow-hued highlights of the Macair as well as birds such as corncrakes and skylarks.
Guided hikes every Tuesday until August 9th, £6 adults (£3 members)/kids free, Free general admission, rspb.org.uk

Hogchester Meadows, Dorset

Hogchester Farm Meadows, Dorset
Visitors are welcome to stroll through the meadows near Charmouth

The National Garden Scheme helps private garden owners organize open houses for charity and is as much a part of the British summer as umbrellas are to a barbecue. However, if you just associate it with striped lawns and frothy herbaceous borders, this summer’s openings will surprise you. A growing focus on gardening for well-being and biodiversity has led to the launch of several wild gardens in 2022. Among them is Hogchester Farm, a 75-acre former dairy farm outside of Charmouth, whose work with Dorset Wildlife Trust has seen much of this land returned to nature. Its hay meadows – rich in orchids, foxgloves and primroses – host interactive NGS open houses on June 25 and July 16 and are open for a walk daily in May, June and July.
NSG open days June 25th, July 16th, general admission to the meadow in May, June and July daily;
NSG days £4 Adult/£1 children, general admission free; ngs.org.uk

Wales Wildflower Weekend, Carmarthenshire

Held at the National Botanic Garden of Wales on 22-23 June, this celebration of the region’s botanical denizens focuses on Welsh orchids, among other wildflowers. Pollinators also take center stage, with a behind-the-scenes tour of bee pots and butterfly nets. The event’s meadow walks, lectures and workshops are free with general admission and range from recording and sharing your wildflower finds via social media to attempting to collect wildflower seeds for the new National Seed Bank of Wales.
Entry £13.75 per adult/£6.75 per childbotanicgarden.wales

Muker Meadows, Yorkshire Dales

Barn in Muker
Meadow color peaks in June in the Yorkshire Dales. Photo: Andrew Fletcher/Alamy

Summer in the Yorkshire Dales distilled in one place, the four fields that make up Muker Meadow – part of Prince Charles’ Coronation Meadows regeneration initiative – are among the most archetypal upland hay meadows in the Yorkshire Dales. A sympathetic management supports the flowering of flowers and grasses at their peak in June, from the melancholic thistle to the sweet spring grass. A marked footpath guides visitors through this Swaledale spectacle in full Technicolor detail, but don’t stop there; Together with eight other local meadows these form a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest (also called Muker Meadows) and much of it can be viewed via a public footpath.
Free access, coronationmeadows.org.uk

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Lacock Abbey - wildflower meadow
Lacock Abbey was the family home of 19th-century botanist and photographic pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot. Photo: The National Trust

Once the home of pioneering photographer William Henry Fox Talbot, it’s fitting that Lacock Abbey, a National Trust site south of Chippenham, has planted a new wildflower meadow. Not only because of Fox Talbot’s photographic connections, but because he was a keen botanist (he is credited with leading the campaign to preserve Kew Gardens as a national botanical garden when it was threatened in the 1830s). Reclaimed from farmland last year and flowering for the first time this June, the meadow has mowed paths for those who want to explore its grasses and flowers up close (and views of the Abbey framed by wildflowers).
Entry £15 per adult/£7.50 Child, free for members, nationaltrust.org.uk

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