Bee Orchid Stonepit Field

Spectacular display of Bee Orchids along Grafton Street

This month (June 2018), a stretch of grassland along Grafton Street (V6) between Bradville and New Bradwell is a riot of colour. In previous years, these grass verges have been mown in early June but following concerns raised by local residents, The Parks Trust has reviewed the management regime for this area and the grass is not cut until later in the summer.

The early results of this change in practice are spectacular. I visited the area last week and was amazed to see hundreds of bee orchids – many of which seem taller than is usual – on the grass banks between Wheelers Lane, Bradville and the New Bradwell aqueduct (on the east side of the V6). Carol Allen, Helen Wilson and myself paid a visit on 10thJune and as well as bee orchids, noted the following species:

Bird’s Foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Common Vetch Vicia sativa
Black Medick Medicago lupulina
Self-heal Prunella vulgaris
Red Clover Trifolium pratense
White Clover Trifolium repens
Meadow Buttercup Ranunculus acris
Ox-eye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Sorrel Rumex acetosa

These flowers we noted in a quick, 15 minute visit and there are sure to be many more species to be found by the discerning botanist! Also seen were meadow brown, common blue and brown argus butterflies and burnet companion moths. Plenty of bumblebees too.

To witness this lovely display I would suggest parking in either Wheelers Lane or Nightingale Crescent, Bradville and then walking along the redway parallel to the V6 for 200 yards or so. But don’t leave it too long – it will be past its best in early July.


Martin Kincaid