Wildflower meadows have all but disappeared from our countryside. Around 98% of wildflower meadows have disappeared since the 1930’s and underused grassland on Kingsmead has the potential to provide a haven to threatened native plant, animal and insect species.
Kingsmead Parish Council are looking to improve the ecological value of the area by reducing the amount of grass cutting and allowing wildflowers to grow. We are taking two different approaches to this:
- In some areas, such as St. George’s Field, we are allowing the grass to grow to see what germinates naturally.
- On the road verge through the estate where the grass has been closely mown for a number of years, we are planting native wildflower seed to see how well the soil and aspect supports these species.
Both areas will be allowed to grow through the summer and not mown until around October time. We want flowers to be allowed to flower so pollinators can work their magic and seeds can ripen and fall to the ground. The cuttings will then be removed.
Collecting the grass cuttings makes a significant difference. It reduces the thick thatch that can build up on verges and prevents wildflower seeds germinating, and it reduces nutrient levels, which encourage vigorous, competitive species. Over time, removing the cuttings makes the verge easier to manage as reduced nutrient levels means that slower-growing wildflower species start to replace lush grass growth.
In this way, the floral display will become better and better every year.
The benefits of developing wildflower areas are:
- Increased biodiversity—it creates a better habitat for native wildlife such as bees and butterflies
- Health and Wellbeing—people benefit from being around nature
- Educational—recognition of wildflower and the insects and animals they attract
- Saves Money—less maintenance, only need to be cut once per year
- Aesthetic impact— looks beautiful, give the impression of an area that cares for the environment.
- The appearance of the wildflower beds will change year after year, in part in response to the weather but also due to some species thriving in a particular soil or aspect and others declining. Other native species may also naturally colonise. We will review the performance of the wildflower beds and take a view on how best to manage them in future. If the trials are successful we hope to spread the approach to other underused grass areas in future.
For more information on wildflowers and their benefits see:
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PHONE: 01606 533858