County's in the pink

PRETTY AS A PICTURE: Esther Sheppard among the blooms

PRETTY AS A PICTURE: Esther Sheppard among the blooms

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Dorchester reporter

ONE of the largest natural carpets of sea pinks in the UK has come into bloom despite being battered by coastal winter storms earlier in the year.

With serious flooding along parts of Chesil Beach it was feared that the colourful display may suffer his year.

But the bright pink flowers, also known as Thrift, are as dazzling as ever.

Esther Sheppard, 23, from Weymouth said it was a unique experience to relax among so many flowers by the sea.

She said: “It’s like a huge pink blanket has been laid out over the ground behind the beach.”

The floral carpet is now in full bloom thanks to the warmer sunny weather as spring turns to summer.

Millions of beautiful tiny pink blooms make up the stunning sight each year that is part of an important wildlife and bird reserve with a number of national and international designations to help protect this important coastal margin conservation area.

Don Moxom, Warden of The Fleet and Chesil Nature Reserve, said: “They are pretty resilient plants and seemed to have come through the storms amazingly well. Had the storms been later they would have been brown instead of pink.

“There are nearly five acres of Thrift, the whole area does turn pink for a few weeks every year. It is one of the best sights at this time of year.

“They are probably the most accessible displays of sea pinks in the UK as they grow mainly on coastal cliffs, but here at Chesil they have perfect growing conditions with easy safe access for people to enjoy close up.”

This fascinating floral show is to be found at the centre of the Jurassic Coast, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Located on Chesil Beach, the Fleet Nature Reserve is managed by the Ilchester Estates which is owned by the Hon Charlotte Townsend, who is one of the richest women in the UK.

With public access, this whole area on the landward side of Chesil Beach has two vast areas that burst into bloom.

“Even after being drenched in seawater spray they have put on a show that appears to be even better this year,” said Esther during a visit to the area.

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