Yorkshire in Bloom 2021

With YiB unable to attend Otley to carry out a full review of the place this year, under Covid, things have been a little different. However, thanks to the work of our excellent treasurer, we managed to win two awards.

Kind to Nature Wildlife Project
Community Litterbug

These were for our litter clearing projects back at the start of the year and our on going work to support pollinators, wildplants and animals.

Cross Green Children’s Centre

Following the re-opening of this centre in 2021 at this stage of Covid19, OiB was asked if we could provide some planters to cheer the place up. Luckily, we had just been offered some pretty pots which we planted up and gave to the centre. They are a mix of low-maintenance drought-tolerent perfumed herbs and more colourful flowers.

Garnett Wharfe daffodil planting

Back in the spring some Otley residents brought an idea to OiB to plant bulbs on the south side of the Wharfe. Hence our little advert was born to bring us all together around this simple plan in recognition of the past 18 months:

“As a memorial to those who died, suffered and still suffer from Covid, Otley in Bloom will be coordinating a “cloud-planting” of 2,000 daffodils this autumn. It will be on the river bank beneath the trees, between Buon Apps and Tittybottle Park. For many people this was a place of regular exercise and contact (if only briefly or with a smile) during the pandemic. We have selected a mix of varieties to provide an extended flowering season and we hope that over the years the cloud will naturalise and grow thicker.”

The journey to complete this project had a series of steps throughout the summer. We started off by asking David Wilson’s management if we could carry out a planting under the trees and explained why. We are very grateful that they agreed.

We sized the long narrow plot to estimate how many bulbs we would need. 2,000 was the answer so we ordered 2,000 mixed daffodil bulbs. In the late summer we announced our plans in the local papers and on Facebook.

We consulted with the residents’ committee of Garnett Wharfe and they supported the idea. Finally the bulbs turned up. Do you know how a big a pile 2,000 bulbs make? The ground next to the river under the trees was rock hard but getting softer as the autumn rains began. The group decided to break the planting into three sessions with one on a Sunday to allow weekday workers to take part.

On the whole the weather stayed nice. The ground was especially full of builder’s rubble and, in places, solid concrete, but over three digs spanning two weeks we got it done. Hopefully the spring will show how well it worked without the bulbs getting in the way of the paddleboarders, the picnickers and everyone else.

And finally a few months later the cloud planting.

Wildflowering north of the Underpass

Leeds Council has given Otley in Bloom and the Rotary Club of Otley, permission to plant a mixed range of wild flowers on the steep bank to the northwest of the Ilkley Road underpass this autumn. This will entail us stripping back small amounts of turf, turning it over and reseeding the exposed soil with Yorkshire native-type wildflower seeds. By turning the turf we will ensure that the existing plants are likely to survive along with these new wildflowers.

What we should see is a larger number of local flowering wildflowers during next summer and more bees and butterflies in the area for a longer period during the spring/summer/autumn. This will increase the area’s biodiversity.

The land is already under a “restricted mow” schedule so it tends to look a bit shaggy all of the time and has started to show a range of natural wildflower plants including Red Sorrel, Sticklewort, Yarrow, Red Clover, Fox and Cubs and Autumn Hawklot as well as a fair few different grasses.

To aid the mowers we will place a series of small blue hearts (to indicate the area of restricted mowing) and a small wooden sign “Mow only in March & October”. More details and photos will follow as the project progresses.

Any problems or concerns please contact us at otleyinbloom@gmail.com

What has grown in 2022

The first thing to say is that the small wooden sign has been removed and replaced a few times, we guess by people who find it a bit intrusive. We will give it a break for a few weeks before trying to replace it. The blue hearts have been left alone. It is also worth noting that, to date, (10/5/22) Leeds council has not yet carried out the first mow of the bank which has given the grass a head start, mowing the bank requires special equipment as it is so steep.

However, we have seen some interesting things coming up.

This lovely little flower is Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) also known as ‘lady’s smock,’ the pretty lilac flowers open around the time the cuckoo starts to call.

Just a note to record that Leeds mowed this bank on the 13 May 22. This killed the Cuckooflower which may come again next year. After the mow we looked through the growth and by the end of May we had the following.

Cinquefoil
Trifolium Dubium
Dock
Daisy and Buttercup
Bird’s foot trefoil

Summer 2021

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.