Chettisham Meadow, Chettisham
An historic remnant of neutral grassland that has been managed as a traditional hay meadow for over a century. Ridge and furrow earthworks (remnants of ploughing from the Middle Ages) are still visible, and many different fine grasses are found, including sweet vernal-grass, red fescue, quaking-grass and yellow oat-grass. Cowslips with their apricot-scented yellow-orange flowers are abundant from March to May. A spectacular show of green-winged orchids appears in late April and May. Other plants include bee and common spotted-orchids, ox-eye daisy, adder's-tongue fern and pepper-saxifrage.
Header image © R G Woods
How to get there
From Chettisham village (please note: there is limited roadside parking) walk left past Church, follow byway across busy A10. After 400m take left track at junction with a wooden finger post pointing the way. Chettisham Meadow is 200m on left.
Species to spot
Best time to see: April - May
Easy to spot with its yellow cup-shaped flowers nodding at the end of tall stems. The name cowslip allegedly derives from ‘cowslup' - an old term for cowpat - since where the cow 'slupped' this flower was often found.
Best time to see: May
The jester-like motley of its green and purple flowers gives this orchid its scientific name: morio, meaning 'fool'. It can sometimes be confused with the early-purple orchid but does not have spots on its leaves.
Best time to see: June - July
One of nature's mimics: this orchid looks like a bee visiting a flower, attracting other bees as they try to mate with it. Despite this clever strategy, in Britain the bee orchid is largely self-pollinating. Image © Plantlife/Tim Wilkins
Best time to see: June - Aug.
Large and daisy-like, the oxeye tends to bloom around midsummer and in fact is called the Sunnwendbleaml - or 'solstice flower' - in Austria. Before the 16th century it was known as the 'Moon Daisy' or 'Dog Daisy'.
Best time to see: All year.
Its silent flight and piercing screech have earnt it names like 'ghost owl' and 'death owl'. Able to hunt both night and day its heart-shaped face directs high-frequency sounds, helping it to find its prey. Image © Les Binns.