We’re increasing local biodiversity by leaving an area in our neighbourhood to grow into a wildflower meadow, providing a place for plants to grow and creatures to live which will in turn attract more wildlife.
Why a meadow?
Pollinating insects are in decline in Britain and globally due to widespread disruption of their natural habitats. Our new meadow will help to reverse this decline in our area. It will also allow us to carry out experiments in managing meadows and hold educational workshops for schools and local people.
Various activities will be taking place at the meadow over the next few years, and we will need the help of local volunteers who are interested in the environment and want to be involved!
What are we doing?
Our new wildflower meadow will be a fantastic habitat for pollinators such as butterflies, bees and hoverflies. In the summer, the grass will grow longer and encourage wildflowers to grow. Raking off and removing grass cuttings will help to lower the fertility of the ground, which will make the grass less competitive and will help to increase the number of wildflowers.
We've added a Bug Hotel, which will provide shelter and places for invertebrates to breed, feed and hibernate during the winter, and a leaf pile which is a great home for worms, beetles, woodlice, centipedes and millipedes. Some of these small animals eat the leaves and some of them are predators and will eat other invertebrates. You will be able to see the leaves change as they rot down and are eaten, from whole leaves into crumbly leaf-mould which is good for growing plants.
A grass wall has several useful functions in the wildlife-friendly area:
- It is a great way to use the grass which is raked up after cutting.
- It provides shelter for mini-beasts (invertebrates) which need damp areas to live.
- Some of this grass will rot down and some will provide food for worms, slugs, snails and woodlice. These animals are nature’s recyclers!
Community Art Space
We have also left a place for people to add a piece of their own artwork. Get creative with natural materials, and try to recycle, upcycle or repurpose items to make your art!
After a few months of raking and clearing the space, the meadow will be ready for a big wildflower-planting day towards the end of October.
Everyone is welcome to join in these sessions and enjoy the benefits working in nature can bring. Our Urban Rangers Debbie and Luke, along with some enthusiastic volunteers, have already made a start on the meadow. In August, they mowed the grass and raked the cuttings to begin cultivating the soil. They also they installed numerous art walls, where the community can display their arts and crafts, and built bug hotels in which insects can thrive. The bug hotels have also created space for the mowed grass to be composted, providing shelter for the insects, who will in turn help to increase the decomposition process.
The team will continue to mow and rake the grass over the next two months, with a big wildflower planting day planned for the end of October. Everyone is welcome to join in these sessions and enjoy the benefits working in nature can bring, both to our physical and mental health.
So, if lockdown has left you with keener interest in nature and your local environment, why not get involved? Contact our Urban Ranger Debbie here to get involved!