The Cheriton Stream runs through the heart of the village that shares its name. With support from Watercress and Winterbournes, its residents are enhancing the habitat with wildflowers.

The cool, clear waters of Hampshire's chalk streams support a range of wonderful wildlife, but need treating with care if they are to remain healthy. In the village of Cheriton, residents are using beautiful blooms to keep their stream in good condition, with support from the Watercress and Winterbournes Landscape Partnership Scheme.

The Cheriton Conservation Volunteer Group has been planting water-loving wildflowers along the Cheriton Stream since 2017, choosing species like meadow buttercup, great burnet, and purple loosestrife. As well as bringing beauty to the village, these blooms provide food for caterpillars and pollinators, shelter for fish fry and waterfowl, and freer movement of wildlife between land and water.

Another benefit of the flowers is their role in tackling localised flooding, which unfortunately sometimes occurs in Cheriton. They help the village green to act as a miniature flood plain in times of high stream flow, holding water that would otherwise reach roads and buildings. Their roots and leaves also secure the stream banks, preventing the soil from washing away.

The wildflowers for this initiative are kindly supplied by Cheriton-based business Butterfly Cottage Garden Plants. The owners don't use electricity or chemicals in their growing process, and their nursery supports thrushes, hedgehogs, and 25 species of butterfly. The wildflowers they provide are grown to order, sometimes from seeds collected by the conservation volunteers.

Since autumn 2020, the volunteers have been inviting children from Cheriton Primary School to join in with the fun. They did a brilliant job on their first outing, initially planting ragged robin, viper's bugloss, devil's-bit scabious, and bird's-foot trefoil, all of which are now growing well. In summer 2021 they added buttercups, cuckoo flower, valerian, small scabious, and meadow crane's-bill.

The flowers start to bloom each spring, and bring a splash of colour to the village throughout the summer. The volunteers and school hope to continue their planting project for several more seasons, for the benefit of their precious chalk stream habitat. The Watercress and Winterbournes partners are so happy to be offering support - explore our wider work to learn more.