4 November - planting cowslip plants & snakeshead fritillary bulbs

Five hundred fritillary bulbs and 150 young cowslip plants were planted along the wall by Redland Church hall and vicarage on a dry and sunny Saturday morning by a dozen locals, including one of Redland's two Green Party Councillors, Martin Fodor (below, left picture).

The community group planted a small number of Fritillaria meleagris at different places along the vicarage wall in 2008 and these continue to brighten up a part of the Green otherwise lacking much botanical interest. The most recent planting has filled in and extended the planted range to almost the entire wall. As fritillaries flourish in damp meadows and meadows subject to winter flooding - which the land along this wall undergoes - we hope they will thrive here and afford a gorgeous display of colour every April.

The choice of cowslips to accompany the fritillaries was inspired by a meadow (picture, right) at Lower Moor Farm, managed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Cowslips, sadly, so much associated with English folklore, have also suffered serious declines as traditional meadows have given way to modern agriculture, but at Lower Moor Farm, they bloom in profusion. They are, nowadays, often included in the wildflower mixes that are used to seed motorway

verges - a far remove from their quiet meadow and woodland origins!

Where can I see fritillaries?

Fritillaries were once common in hay meadows in southern England. However, they have become increasingly rare as most of these meadows have been dug up or drained and turned over to arable land over several hundred years. They can still be seen in spring in the few meadows that remain, most notably North Meadow, Cricklade, which boasts around 80% of the population of wild Fritillaria meleagris in Britain - an estimated half million plants! There are half a dozen other meadows where they may be found, including those at Magdalen College, Oxford and Clattinger Farm, owned and managed by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, and near to Lower Moor Farm (pictured above).