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%

Myers Croft Beck cleaned up again

Due to heavy rains for the past month and the development of some wonderful plant growth, this secret little wildlife-friendly enclave to the south of Sainsbury’s carpark was flooding and making the footpath from Myers Croft to Gay Lane impassible.

OIB had been very much part of developing this little space so we put on the wellies and dug out the blockage on Remembrance Sunday. Hopefully, this will help drain out the local yards.

We last cleaned up this area in May 2013.

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

Birdbox clean-up

We’ve been out cleaning and replacing our bird boxes, removing damaged ones and adding a few more. The great news is that every box had a nest in it. We have started using this new style with a metal sheet around the hole to prevent predation and a hinged lid so you can get inside them easily to clean them.  Who wants to raise their young in a dirty nest?

Your job for the week is to clean out any bird boxes in your garden ready for the new season. Removing old nests and giving them a wash prevents the build-up of pests and diseases.