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.
October and November are always busy months for OiB, even more so when Covid is causing constantly changing restrictions on how many people can meet out of doors. During this period we do a lot of tidying up. So various individuals managed to get out and tidy up the Charles St car park, a number of planters around town, flower beds on Weston Lane and Bremner Street corner, as well as smaller sites. All socially distanced or keeping in a bubble, of course.
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.
Annually OiB tidy up the small park on the corner of Bremner Street. This area holds two bird boxes, some well developed small trees and, on the frontage, small bulbs and plants. It tends to overgrow its space each year so we wait for all the birds to have completed nesting and then cut it back. This year, constraints at the council recycling centre meant we kept the debris on site to compost down safely. Most years we also litter pick the space within the area and we did that again but the litter levels were smaller than usual.
Restrictions on numbers of Otley Bloomers (6 maximum) due to Covid meant that we had to limit participants, but we managed to do a good job in just a short while. No chance for our usual cake and coffee though!
Back in February 2020 OIB were discussing how to celebrate 20 years of OIB, possibly paying for a new seat or planting up the BT building’s garden. Fast forward just a few weeks and the country was in lockdown with members restricted to their homes and, depending on their health and age, access to regular outdoor exercise. A very strange time which was made slightly better by some of the loveliest spring weather we have seen. This lovely weather dried out many plantings around town which could not be supported by Leeds Parks as they had to modify work roles across the city.
OIB had to change what it does as well. We have tried to maintain a new Daily Flower posting on Facebook. Our monthly meetings have moved onto the web in Zoom. Eventually, lockdown limits were raised enough to allow us to tidy and replant the garden at the Fire Station. Moving into June/July we decided to help Otley reopen its centre by filling and planting up 32 barrier planters and asked Otley inhabitants to contribute via crowdsourcing (an OIB first).
Watering for Otley
When OIB decided to bring back plants to all the barrier planters (32) around central Otley we hoped we would get a lot of help from companies selling us compost and plants and we were not disappointed. Thank you B&TS and Courtyard Planters.
But we didn’t know what to do about the watering. Well the kind companies of Otley stepped up to give us a hand, so we really do thank: