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Search to find Norfolk's poppy fields

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:02 22 October 2010

A poppy field at Heacham.

A poppy field at Heacham.

IAN CLARKE

Norfolk's wildlife custodians are urging everyone to help compile a survey of how many poppy fields remain and where they are.

It's Norfolk's official county flower and creates an unmistakable sight of washed crimson across our countryside.

Now the county's wildlife custodians are urging everyone to help compile a survey of how many poppy fields remain and where they are.

And the Norfolk Wildlife Trust suspects the results may even lead to a re-thinking of where the county's “capital” of poppies really is.

Ever since late 19th century, when Daily Telegraph columnist and poet Clement Scott popularised the term “Poppyland” for the area around Cromer, Sheringham and Overstrand, it has become accepted that is where the much-loved flower is at its most prolific.

The changing face of rural areas - changes to farming techniques and the “concrete spread” caused by house and road building - has prompted the NWT to launch the pre-harvest survey and appeal for the whole county to help out.

David North, NWT's education manager, said: “Now is the best time to look out for one of the plant world's most spectacular sights - fields coloured red with poppies.

“Poppies are Norfolk's county flower and yet nobody knows how many fields of poppies there are in Norfolk or where they are.”

Mr North added: “Poppies remain much loved flowers, and a field of poppies must be one of the easiest natural spectacles to pick out. It may seem surprising but nobody knows whether poppy fields can still be found in 'Poppyland' or whether other areas or Norfolk today are more deserving of this name. My guess is that West Norfolk is better, especially around Docking and Snettisham.”

He said the more people that took part in the survey, the more accurate the results would be. “Everyone can recognise poppies and we hope people of all ages will really get involved in going out into the countryside to find them,” said Mr North.

Poppies flower from June through to late summer but the next six weeks is the very best time to look out for fields full of poppies.

The general decline of the flower is being blamed on the more efficient cleaning of cereal seed prior to sowing meaning they are no longer dispersed with the seed corn.

And also the development of powerful herbicides to increase yields has enabled farmers to have largely weed-free cereal fields. But Mr North said poppies were great survivors and seeds can be viable for up to 100 years.

The survey will help discover if poppies are making a comeback in Norfolk on areas of set-aside farmland.

To take part in the survey - which is part of NWT's People and Wildlife project and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund - you simply need to return the form to Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Bewick House, 22 Thorpe Road, Norwich NR1 1RY or e-mail details and a photo to makeitcount@norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

The NWT only wants to hear about fields of poppies - and not just a few on a roadside verge.

To get more recording cards and a leaflet about poppies phone the NWT on 01603 625540.

Website:

www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk


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