The second summer under covid has been interesting. We have had more time to plan and more time to find safe ways of working together while maintaining the various planters and beds around town.
Our most regular area of work continues to be the barrier planters, firstly our thanks must go to Otley Bid who have paid for much of the watering on these planters this year, to Leeds House which picked up watering the two large planters in the Market Square, the Milk Bar Cafe and Deli who look after the pyramid planter in Manor Square and Nam Jam Thai who fill the planter next to their restaurant with herbs and of course all the other shops who pick up their local planter too many to name.
Sustaining the barrier planters is a new project for us since Leeds council gave up this work, we have moved the planting to be more drought toleratant and to be perennial, using our allotment to overseason plants before we can bring the same plant back for a second or more years.
In terms of the large Weston Lane bed we have tried to keep that tidy but the plantings are so successful and the space so full of bees that it is hard to know exactly what to cut back and what to leave growing during our various visits. What start as flowers in the summer become seed pods to feed birds in the late autumn. A real joy of a bed. Though this Broom is having a trim back in the autumn.
The Nectar Beds in WharfeMeadows are much the same and seem to need a lot of work but the buzz of health pervades the area from March into November so it is going well.
The Bremnar Street garden is very healthy and now seems to need three cut backs a year, one before bird nesting season, an early August trim and then a final September cut back. It would be great if Otley Council could get the badly placed sign post moved so that wheelchaired pedestrians had easier passage on the pavement.
The recycling centre Ellar Ghyll bed is pretty much self sufficient with only a certain amount of weeding and litter needing clearing on a regular basis. The rose hips and the connection up to the Ghyll beck make a nice extention to the nature path here. However, some of the small trees planted here are getting a bit big.
The various other “gates” to Otley continue to be planted up with a seasonal sequence of flowers.
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 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.
At the start of 2020 OiB, Wildlife Friendly Otley and Otley 2030 were working together to provide Leeds Parks department with a guide on how to introduce more trees and wildflowers to Otley. We were especially interested in changing road verges from barren green grasses to more interesting wildflower areas which would offer friendly places for wildlife and reduce the carbon footprint of maintaining verges.
Leeds Parks found other areas of Leeds to plant up before Otley and then…. Covid struck. Despite this, the Otley organisations kept talking and looking for alternative groups to work with. It was with great excitement that we found that the BT telephone exchange on Charles Street was happy to let us intiate a wildflower meadow in their garden. We considered planting up the garden in the Spring but the weather had been beautiful and dry so we were concerned we would not be able to keep it watered, hence we let the Spring pass.
Autumn looked a better bet and so, in September, six socially-distanced members of OIB and WFO started with this roughly mown area.
Focusing on the front rectangle of grass we mowed the grass again, and again, and again. This allowed us to get down to the turf of the garden. Then we used a turf cutter to slice strips out which we flipped over. The addition of 0.5 kg of wildflower seed and about the same of dry sand scattered by hand over the newly exposed earth seemed to work well. Over the coming few days the British weather did the right sort of things and watered the seed in. Some of it will require colder weather to trigger germination.
We will sign-post the area to help guide the official mowers to cut the grass/wildflowers correctly. We will also put up a sign explaining what we have done so everyone can see how well or badly this is doing.
This is just some of the rubbish we found in and around Kell Beck last weekend. A few Otley in Bloom volunteers, along with some local residents, spent a couple of hours dragging a miscellany of items out of the beck and picking up litter in the area.
When we’d done that, we planted a few daffodils, which we hope will brighten the area up in Spring.