If you have seen a wildflower meadow in bloom, I am sure you have appreciated it, whether it be for the beauty of the flowers or the habitat and sustenance it provides for insects, butterflies and other wildlife. This was what we wanted to create in the middle of a built up town environment.
We wanted to explain to others the importance of creating these food sources for our disappearing insect life and encourage others to copy our example, whether it be in their garden or a public space, in their shopping or commercial area. A wildflower area is a great alternative to the manicured areas of bedding plants that are more common in urban areas. It is also much appreciated by many, adding to health and wellbeing of communities. So many passers-by stopped to admire the flowers in bloom and read our signs.
The Heswall Joint Rotary Environment Group was formed not only to bring together the resources of three local Rotary Clubs for the support of our environment, but to reach out to others in our community to join with us in our environmental projects. Every time we were out working on the site, we engaged with residents and spread the word about our aims. The interest in our wildflower project has led others to join us in an environmental awareness event planned for early 2022.
Having been successful in obtaining a grant from the Liverpool City Region Community Environment Fund, we had to complete the project between March and October 2021, which worked well with the growing season. The turf was removed from an area of approximately 100 sq metres, the ground rotavated, and then thoroughly raked to prepare for the seed.
By sowing a combination of annual and perennial wildflower seeds, a good show of flowers was achieved this year, with more to follow in 2022 and 2023 as the perennial flowers also come into bloom. A fair amount of physical work was involved but with a good number of volunteers in short shifts, the workload was not onerous. Fortunately the weather was on our side on all our working days!
We have been very heartened by the response we have had in our local community and we hope that the interpretive panel will continue to inform and encourage others to take similar action.
This project was one of several carried out by an environmental group formed in 2020 by members of three local Rotary Clubs. We liaised initially with the Cool Wirral Partnership which co-ordinates local action on climate change and is supported by Wirral Council.
Our project was inspired by other wildflower meadow projects, on a much larger scale than ours and in more rural areas. We felt however that there was a role that smaller areas of wildflowers can play in built-up urban environments.
We obtained very helpful advice from Wirral Wildlife and New Ferry Butterfly Park to analyse the soil type, prepare the ground correctly and purchase seed to suit the soil.
Liaison with the Council resulted in permission to use a piece of Council land on a local area in central Heswall, known as the Puddydale, and we reached out via personal contacts and via other local community groups to get volunteers to help us with the work.
We were delighted with the interest that was shown by local residents and approaches to local businesses resulted in help to remove the turf from the area and transport to another location - all at no cost to us! More help was forthcoming when people saw us working on the site. There was concern that the area might be vandalised despite courteous temporary signage but fortunately local residents whose property overlooked the site managed to prevent local lads riding over the area on their bikes. Once the area was in flower it remained largely untouched - and was very much appreciated by everyone we spoke to.
Luckily a grant was obtained from the Liverpool City Region Community Environment Fund, otherwise the cost of the interpretive panel, an important part of the project, would have been difficult to fund.
This was an excellent small project that could be copied in any urban environment where a patch of land can be found. It has been appreciated by so many residents, provided a great source of food for pollinators and other insects, and helped to get members of the community working together. It does require a bit of ongoing maintenance year on year to scythe the area in the autumn and manage any resowing as required.
Range of species of flower seed sown and the numbers that flowered this year.
Number of bees and other insects present.