Queen’s green canopy

As part of the Queen’s platinum celebration the Queen is asking for trees to be planted and reported on her map at https://queensgreencanopy.org/ . Otley in Bloom have put five into a piece of unused verge on Ilkley Road and here is our certificate. Our trees are a mixture of local Chestnut, Sycamore and other types. They are planted in scrub land which would normally fill in with trees in the next few years. If you want help with planting trees then get in touch.

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.

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.

BT Garden 2021

The year started well for our wildflower project at BT’s telephone exchange on Charles Street. The area that OiB and Wildlife Friendly Otley seeded last September showed some interesting plants developing. We marked out the zone that we wanted left alone and placed a sign at the entrance to the land in February. The plan, agreed with BT, was for just one mowing this first year in September.

Flowers started to appear not only in the seeded area but also in the rest of the site. By May, with bluebells and other wildflowers in abundance, the un-mowed garden was starting to look like the meadow-in-the-middle-of-the-town we hoped it would become.

By June some of the plants were over 4 feet tall and the place was buzzing with insects. Someone kicked over the sign that explained what we were trying to do, but given the stress of Covid we sort of understood that.

Then on 4th June the mowers came and cut the whole area.

Obviously this was a blow, particularly for the volunteers who had done the work. We discussed the situation with BT and learnt that their mowing contractor had tried to cut as high as possible. Looking forward, they will try to limit the mowing to March and late August. We have yet to see what survives into the autumn, when it will be time to decide what needs to be done to recover this.

BT Garden Autumn 21

After the mid season cut in 21, BT didn’t cut the garden at all in the Autumn. OiB stepped in and mowed just the large rectangular area. Wildlife friendly Otley came in and added further wildflower seedings after we had mowed. Let’s see what happens in 2022.

BT Garden Spring 22

Up until May 22 BT has not come back to mow this garden and OiB has done nothing to change the garden so let’s see what the results are.

Pretty lovely

Wildflowers in BT’s garden

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.

For those who are interested in the details;

seeds purchased from https://www.naturescape.co.uk/

“N5F long season meadow mix”

Latin NameEnglish NameMix Composition
Achillea millefoliumYarrow3%
Centaurea nigraCommon Knapweed5%
Centaurea scabiosaGreater Knapweed3%
Daucus carotaWild Carrot5%
Echium vulgareViper’s Bugloss2%
Galium verumLady’s Bedstraw6%
Geranium pratenseMeadow Cranesbill2%
Hypochaeris radicataCommon Catsear2%
Knautia arvensisField Scabious3.5%
Lathyrus pratensisMeadow Vetchling2%
Leontodon hispidusRough Hawkbit2%
Leucanthemum vulgareOxeye Daisy5%
Linaria vulgarisCommon Toadflax1%
Lotus corniculatusBirdsfoot Trefoil4%
Malva moschataMusk Mallow3%
Plantago mediaHoary Plantain2.5%
Primula verisCowslip3%
Prunella vulgarisSelf Heal7%
Ranunculus acrisMeadow Buttercup5%
Ranunculus bulbosusBulbous Buttercup5%
Rhinanthus minorYellow Rattle6%
Rumex acetosaCommon Sorrel5%
Scabiosa columbariaSmall Scabious3%
Silene dioicaRed Campion4%
Stachys officinalisBetony3%
Succisa pratensisDevilsbit Scabious2%
Trifolium pratenseWild Red Clover2.5%
Verbascum nigrumDark Mullein1.5%
Vicia craccaTufted Vetch2%
   
29 Wildflower species 100%