Where jets once thundered and women protested, wildlife now thrives

Autumn lady's tresses

Greenham common, Berkshire. I am standing in a thousand acres of a habitat that is rarer than rainforest. To my left and right, as far as the eye can see, it is a green carpet of rough grass awash with colour – the mauve of bell heather and the delicate pink of ling, stands of bramble heavy with berries but still flowering white and pink, and impenetrable swathes of gorse. The flowers are long gone from the common gorse, but

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Flowers that glow in the darkness

violet helleborine

Following the path inwards seems unnatural, a step away from light and safety. As the dense canopy of the oaks closes overhead, the ranks of rosebay willowherb and hemp agrimony that line the woodland’s bright outer edges slowly cede ground to bramble and nettle, which in turn fade out as I enter its dark heart, home to little more than spindly grasses and seedling hawthorns who cling on, hoping for a giant above to shed a bough and give them

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