Wildflowers for the People!

by Rich Howorth Wildlife Urban Butterflies Author - Dan Fagan Bees

All across the city and towns of our Biosphere, colourful wild flowers are now appearing in parks and other green spaces that aim to “bring the countryside to town”! All three councils here (see below) are leading projects to convert patches of grass to beautiful diverse wildlife havens that not only look great right now in high summer, but also help to fuel our precious insect pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Brighton & Hove City Council City Parks led the ‘Downs to Towns’ project, with government funding (2013-15) and support from partners to create 15 new chalk “Bee & Butterfly Banks” of 25 species of downland wildflowers, as well as diversifying 25 other green spaces including parks, housing estates, schools, allotments and cemeteries. Over 250 volunteers have helped with local seed collection, propagation at Stanmer Nursery (where local wild flowers are available for sale to the public) and planting of around 180,000 plug plants! This good work is now continuing through the Biosphere programme, including landscaping of two new rain gardens in Portslade and creation of a ‘Bee Bed’ as a public demonstration area at The Level park in central Brighton. [caption id="attachment_1730" align="aligncenter" width="1014"]B-Bank blooming in Whitehawk, Brighton - June 2016 B-Bank blooming in Whitehawk, June 2016[/caption] Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council Parks department meanwhile is both planting new and nurturing existing wildflower areas across its parks, gardens and open spaces this summer. They have planted an area of almost 5,000 square metres with wildflowers across 17 sites spread throughout Adur and Worthing, such as at Lancing Manor Park, Southwick Green, Brooklands, The Gallops and Worthing Seafront. Plants include annual plants from chalk downland and cornfield ‘weeds’, as well as other wildflowers which are rich in nectar sources for pollinating insects and produce a visually stunning backdrop. This is in addition to the existing meadows that they manage which totals nearly 14,000 square metres of wildflower verges, banks and borders. [caption id="attachment_1729" align="aligncenter" width="592"]Wildflowers sewn in Sompting Wildflowers sewn in Sompting[/caption] Lewes District and Town Councils and others are leading the exciting new campaign ‘Wildflower Lewes’ to get the town buzzing with bees, fluttering with butterflies and rainbow-coloured with beautiful wildflowers! Wildflower Lewes has set out to create wildflower habitat throughout Lewes, wherever they can find small patches of suitable land. The aim is to make stepping stones and corridors of beautiful wildflower habitat that connects the town to the downs and the rest of the countryside; and give people an opportunity to enjoy and care for the nature on their doorstep, and bring colour into the town. The project brings together Town & District Councillors, Lewes District Council Rangers, the Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Railway Land Wildlife Trust, and local ecologists and interested wildflower enthusiasts; and it is also supported by the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere programme. Wildflower Lewes logo It's a well-cited fact that there has been a 97% decline in wildflower meadows since WWII. Lewes is lucky to be situated in chalk downland; rare worldwide, but locally abundant, and particularly species-rich. They'd like to find space in Lewes to bring the downs into the town, and create space for other natural habitats that celebrate our wild heritage. They are asking for people in Lewes to help identify possible patches of land near their houses that they would like to become wildflower patches and giving people the chance to get involved in creating and looking after spaces for wildlife. They are also looking at suitable land owned by the Town & District Council to create more natural wildflower habitat through changes in mowing regimes and selective planting of native species. If you are interested in taking part in the or simply want to learn more visit their Facebook page, by searching ‘Wildflower Lewes’, or visit the blog site. [caption id="attachment_1728" align="alignnone" width="468"] Wildflower Lewes launch with textile sewing map[/caption] The ‘Wildflower Lewes’ campaign was officially launched at the ‘Place to Think With’ Festival held by the Railway Land Wildlife Trust on Sunday 3rd July 2016 at the Linklater Pavilion. This innovative centre for the study of environmental change was the perfect place to act as the hub for the campaign and now houses a ginormous specially commissioned textile map of Lewes town! When new wildflower areas are created, the canvas can be rolled down and members of the public or groups can sew onto the canvas their wildflower area! The first area was sewn to mark wildflower planting within a specially designed mathematical planter built by Priory School pupils led by designer Tom Daniell and funded by a Railway Land Wildlife Trust Heritage Lottery Funder Project. [caption id="attachment_1727" align="aligncenter" width="873"]Opening the 'Place to Think With' planter at the Railway Land in Lewes Opening the 'Place to Think With' planter at the Railway Land in Lewes[/caption] Dan Fagan, Community Ranger for Lewes District Council says: “in many ways the town of Lewes is like a barrier blocking insects and plants from travelling across the downs or along the river Ouse. This project aims to make holes in that barrier by creating green paths and corridors that wildlife can use”. So, wherever you live in our Biosphere, you can get involved by visiting wildflower areas, appreciating their beauty and importance, and coming up with local places yourself where you think that there is the potential to make a difference. Why not start in your own garden?!

Comments

  • Sally Attwood:

    I have really enjoyed reading through this site, especially the sections about wildflower plantings and the ‘Downs into Towns’ themes. I’m sure these ideas capture families attention – and they are the future.Thank you all.

    04 Nov 2016 19:30:29

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