We were asked to plant a Butterfly garden in the car park of this nature reserve. The area given over to us is reasonably large with a young conker sapling growing in the middle which will eventually destroy our planting but for the next few years we should be able to offer nectar and flowering plants for an extended season and for a range of butterflies.
First we had to dig over the space and mark it using gifted stones to stop cars parking on it. Then, using leaf mold from the uncleared streets of Otley, plants from our gardens, some re-cycled plants from Leeds Parks (by agreement) and some bought in plants we managed to plant this up. We decided to use the weed surpressing medium to cut down on maintenance and that should stay covered up with the leaf mold. Only time will tell. Let’s hope for a bit of rain as this is an impossible site to keep watered.
And a final touch, a sign.
We came back to tidy up the bed today and to deal with what turned out to be the results of a four week drought. We added some new plants (thanks Phil Knight) plus some others from the allotment and member’s gardens have filled in the holes.
We have also put up a rudimentary fence using local dead tree branches to offer targets for visiting dogs. Hopefully if they use these twigs they will stop marking the plantings.
OiB is trying to maintain the town’s barrier planters so there is always something interesting in them, using perennials wherever possible. The week of 10th May was a good opportunity to upgrade all 31 planters, which we did in three mornings. Despite ongoing restrictions we had an enjoyable time followed by coffee in the market square. The very kind Otley BID has stepped in to provide the money for watering roughly half these planters this year.
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.
Several Otley in Bloom members recently did some pruning and tidying and a bit of planting at Bremner Street. We had a good turnout for this taskforce including 2 new volunteers. We cut back the overgrown shrubs and took away several very large bags of prunings and litter.
Sunday 20th September at 10am, meet at The Buttercross
This September Otley in Bloom will be working with schools, community groups and other interested parties to plant snowdrops to mark the centenary of the First World War. 5000 bulbs will be planted across the town in key locations to mark this important anniversary.
Snowdrops have been chosen as they are a symbol of peace and hope, and a link to the white war graves. They are also an early source of nectar for bees. The snowdrops will flower in spring 2016, creating larger clumps every year from then on to create a lasting legacy.
If you would like to be involved, or can think of a good place to plant some snowdrops, let us know….
There is also a connection with the Crimean War. Unlike the poppy’s association with the blood spilt in the First World War, the purity of the snowdrop enchanted the soldiers bogged down in Crimea (1853-1856). The flowers heralded spring on the battlefield. Many survivors brought the bulbs back to plant in their gardens.
Snowdrops contain their own anti-freeze. They were harvested during the First World War to make anti-freeze for tanks.
On a sunny day, snowdrops are highly scented and give off a honey smell. If you have enough plants the perfume will fill the garden.