BT Garden 2021

The year started well for our wildflower project at BT’s telephone exchange on Charles Street. The area that OiB and Wildlife Friendly Otley seeded last September showed some interesting plants developing. We marked out the zone that we wanted left alone and placed a sign at the entrance to the land in February. The plan, agreed with BT, was for just one mowing this first year in September.

Flowers started to appear not only in the seeded area but also in the rest of the site. By May, with bluebells and other wildflowers in abundance, the un-mowed garden was starting to look like the meadow-in-the-middle-of-the-town we hoped it would become.

By June some of the plants were over 4 feet tall and the place was buzzing with insects. Someone kicked over the sign that explained what we were trying to do, but given the stress of Covid we sort of understood that.

Then on 4th June the mowers came and cut the whole area.

Obviously this was a blow, particularly for the volunteers who had done the work. We discussed the situation with BT and learnt that their mowing contractor had tried to cut as high as possible. Looking forward, they will try to limit the mowing to March and late August. We have yet to see what survives into the autumn, when it will be time to decide what needs to be done to recover this.

Barrier planters – Spring refresh

OiB is trying to maintain the town’s barrier planters so there is always something interesting in them, using perennials wherever possible. The week of 10th May was a good opportunity to upgrade all 31 planters, which we did in three mornings. Despite ongoing restrictions we had an enjoyable time followed by coffee in the market square. The very kind Otley BID has stepped in to provide the money for watering roughly half these planters this year.

The great bypass litter mystery

During the dull early months of 2021 with the country placed under lockdown it became apparent that the Otley bypass verges were filling up with litter. It was even discussed in Otley-Our-Town. A lot of individuals tried to tidy up (thanks guys) but the bypass is roughly 1 km long with verges up to 10 metres wide on both sides. For those interested in these things, that’s getting on for 2 hectares or 5 acres covered in scraggly bush.

OiB reported it to Leeds City Council and offered to help the team there do a litter-pick. Leeds CC decided to do it themselves (according to some, up to 56 bags were removed) and after they’d done their best OiB did a check round and picked another 14 bags of “stuff” off the road. We’ve checked with Otley Town Council since then and they say it’s down to the public to report this sort of mess. Which solves the mystery as to why it had been left to get in such a state – presumably, no one reported it. So if you see litter just go to the appropriate Leeds CC webpage and fill in the form. You don’t even have to give your name. Thanks to everyone who did what they could.

We would not recommend that people litterpick this road themselves, given the steepness of the verges and the 60mph speed limit. The majority of drivers are sensible but, as in life, there are some pratts.

Lockdown planters and showers

The 2021 lockdown continues. Last year we planted up the barrier planters in Otley (32+) in the late spring. The half to the west suffered from poor compost (not our supplier’s fault, very much all there was available) and the plants have never done as well as those on the eastern side of town.

Back in November we spread daffodil bulbs around them all, which are now coming up. Just to enhance these planters for the spring, we added a few more trays of plants during a rainy day.

Thank you to everyone who stopped to say thanks, and for giving us social distance to work.