Many people will be wondering what is happening with the flowerbeds in Wharfemeadows Park. We want to reassure everyone that flowers will soon be appearing in the 4 large beds nearest to Bridge Avenue.
Otley in Bloom, Wildlife Friendly Otley and Otley 2030 are working together, supported by local councillors and with agreement from Leeds City Council.
A planting plan has been drawn up and plants ordered from Leeds Parks and Countryside department several weeks ago. The beds will be planted up with flowering perennials which support wildlife, encourage bees, butterflies and improve biodiversity.
We hope that by the end of the summer the beds will be full of life and colour. These beds will then be maintained by the community groups rather than by Leeds City Council.
We are pleased to have been able to come to an agreement which has saved these beds from being grassed over. Which also delivers much better planting for sustaining pollinating insects than the annual bedding plants normally seen in these beds.
When the perennials die back in the autumn we will be doing a further planting of spring bulbs to extend the flowering season.
We know that some people, particularly those living near the park will be keen to get involved in the planting of these beds and in helping to keep them looking good in the future and we would be delighted to have you join us. We are now simply waiting for a delivery date for the plants from Parks and Countryside.
As we progress we will add more photos showing the developments of the beds.
Day one was lovely after some rain overnight and the garden soil had been well prepared. Roughly 850 plants turned up from Leeds Parks and we added to this stock from our own gardens and allotment. A strong team worked for four hours on the first two beds. We left it watered thanks to Parks letting us use their hose and hopefully we might get a bit more rain tonight.
Day 2 was a little cooler but by now we had learnt how to get this massive task completed and some more volunteers turned up. It felt a little sad leaving the beds after watering the plants in as we were not sure about the weather. Luckily the BBC were right and we had a series of night time rainfalls over the next few days. Over to nature…
We were asked to plant a Butterfly garden in the car park of this nature reserve. The area given over to us is reasonably large with a young conker sapling growing in the middle which will eventually destroy our planting but for the next few years we should be able to offer nectar and flowering plants for an extended season and for a range of butterflies.
First we had to dig over the space and mark it using gifted stones to stop cars parking on it. Then, using leaf mold from the uncleared streets of Otley, plants from our gardens, some re-cycled plants from Leeds Parks (by agreement) and some bought in plants we managed to plant this up. We decided to use the weed surpressing medium to cut down on maintenance and that should stay covered up with the leaf mold. Only time will tell. Let’s hope for a bit of rain as this is an impossible site to keep watered.
And a final touch, a sign.
We came back to tidy up the bed today and to deal with what turned out to be the results of a four week drought. We added some new plants (thanks Phil Knight) plus some others from the allotment and member’s gardens have filled in the holes.
We have also put up a rudimentary fence using local dead tree branches to offer targets for visiting dogs. Hopefully if they use these twigs they will stop marking the plantings.
Otley in Bloom is asking the people of Otley, do you want the town verges to be made of wildflowers that look like this rather than just green grass?
The first town that took up this idea is Rotherham. They worked with a charity, Plantlife, to modify their mowing practice on a number of verges and spread local and brought-in wildflower seed to develop an amazing series of beautiful verges.
Working with Plantlife the team developed how to achieve this, ensuring good, safe sight-lines for cars while at the same time reducing the cost of mowing and providing better areas for insects to get access to a range of British wildflowers. The mowing programme changes to an early mow in March/April to give the flowers a chance to grow ahead of the grass and then is not mowed again until late in August/September once the flowers have shed their seeds.
If you want to know more about the details of how this is done then download this pdf from Plantlife. The downside seems to be that the verges will not look like a lawn for a period and may look a little untidy. The upside seems to be larger number of flowers for bees to work and better nature avenues for other animals. Plus it is more colourful and lower cost.
Otley in Bloom have a new logo which you may have already seen on our lamppost planters, incorporating a photo of a rudbeckia. You’ll probably see more of it around town. We are keeping our existing logo, the lovely black and white image of Otley, but we also needed something clearer and simpler and brighter that can be seen from a distance, and we hope you like our new logo too.
The yellow bikes with flowers have been a big hit locally and nearly all have now found new homes. Some will still be seen around Otley – one will remain in a central spot as an Otley in Bloom ‘noticeboard’. One is being given as an anniversary present, one is being adopted by a Dutch bike enthusiast and one will travel Wakefield way for a September flower festival. Donations have been truly generous, to help keep Otley a well loved and cared for place to live and work. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.
There are still a few yellow bikes waiting for adoption. If you are interested in one, please contact Katie at Courtyard Planters on Westgate (01943 462390).