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

Otley wants wildflower verges?

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.

If you want to share your views, please drop a note to our OIB Facebook page

Trees on Bradford Road

Some of the trees on Bradford Road were looking decidedly crooked, and their metal guards were even worse.  We don’t know how they got like this, maybe they were bashed by lawn mowers or wheelie bins, or maybe backed into by cars.  Anyway for this month’s taskforce we’ve straightened them up as much as possible, removed tree ties where they were no longer needed, weeded around the base of the trees and mulched them with bark chippings, and they’re looking a lot better now.  If you live on Bradford Road and there is one of our trees outside your house, maybe you’d like to help us by generally keeping an eye on it, and letting us know if there are any problems with it.  We may be able to plant a few more trees along here in the future.

Ilkley Road gateway opened

Ilkley Road gateway

A stunning looking stone cyclist has started greeting motorists as they enter Otley from the Ilkley direction.  It is the centrepiece of a new dry stone wall gateway that has been installed beside the A660, near the turn-off for Wharfebank Business Centre.  It was officially opened in February by Otley’s Town Mayor, councillor Nigel Gill.

The feature is the latest in a series of gateways that Otley in Bloom have been positioning on routes into town.  Others are on Pool Road, Leeds Road and Bradford Road, near Ellar Ghyll.  More gateways are planned for the future.

It was made by dry stone waller Gordon Simpson, who said  “It’s a nod to the Tour de France, which came past this very spot, and Otley’s very long tradition of cycling.  And having the wheels made out of millstones was a way of referencing Yorkshire. It took about three weeks to make. We actually built the wall at home in two pieces and then transported it.”