June is a great month for wildflowers. And, despite Didcot being an ever growing town, there are loads of places to see them locally.
Whilst some flowers are coming to the end of their flowering period, others are just starting. I walked out to Upton this week to take a photo of the poppy field beside the railway embankment. Alas, too late! However, the yellow spikes of agrimony and the butterfly friendly knapweeds are coming into their prime.
Where to see wildflowers
One of my usual haunts, primarily because it’s close to home, is Mowbray Field and the old railway embankment between Didcot and Upton.
However, there are wildflowers all over Didcot. Some planted on purpose, for example on Great Western Park; others along verges and stream banks in Ladygrove. The edges of footpaths are great too. In fact, you’ll probably find some wherever you look!
My favourite summer flowers are orchids. The reservoir in Mowbray Field is home to southern marsh, pyramidal and common spotted orchids whilst the chalk slopes of the railway embankment are an ideal spot for bee orchids (although I only found a solitary specimen this year). As you can see, it’s a great bee mimic!
Please remember not to pick any wild flower, and also to be aware of less friendly flowers. One to watch out for along the railway bank is wild parsnip; the sap can cause blisters.
Butterflies and insects
Of course, flowers aren’t just pretty, they provide pollen and nectar too. Watch any wildflower and you’ll see bees, butterflies, hoverflies and insects.
At the moment (late June), marbled white and meadow brown butterflies are out in force, particularly along the railway bank. You might also see skippers, tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies on calm sunny days.
Wild flower spotter sheet
But what if you don’t know your clover from your campion? Help is at hand!
I’ve created a handy wildflower spotter sheet covering the flowers I’ve seen, and photographed, along the railway embankment this week. It’s a snapshot of the commoner species, rather than an exhaustive list. And it’s not just for children, everyone can go on a wild flower hunt!
I hope you’ll enjoy a flower spotting walk; let me know what your favourite wildflowers are. If you enjoy nature, you might also be interested in the Wild in Didcot Facebook group. Do join if you wish!