As part of its Biodiversity: Every Garden Counts initiative, the Parish Council is helping to create more wildlife-friendly spaces on its own land, including Peel Park, just off Keeds Lane. Since 2017 areas above the football pitches in Peel Park have been left un-mown, and gradually, flower and grass species have increased whilst crickets, grasshoppers, bees and butterflies have returned to feed and breed in these patches of long grass. Excitingly, a pyramidal orchid burst into bloom here in summer 2021, and we hope others will follow suit.
The beginnings of a new wildflower bank
In early April 2022, two areas stretching from the small pond towards Fenns Lane and covering approx 750 sq metres was sown with wildflower seeds. The LANCE Trust co-ordinated the project on behalf of the Parish Council.
- South bank in Peel Park prepared for sowing of wildflower seeds. © Carl Tarsey
Work to prepare the site took place in late March, when Darran McLane of Bloom Gardening Bristol cut the ground vegetation hard back to expose 50% or more of bare earth to allow the wildflower seeds some room to germinate. After that, the earth was lightly raked to create grooves in which the seed could settle and groups of Brownies, local volunteers and trustees from the LANCE Trust scattered the seed. The next few weeks were hot and dry so not great for germination but by May there were flowers in bloom.
- The plot was divided into 1 metre squares. © Carl Tarsey
Both groups of Long Ashton Brownies joined in to help sow the seed mix, which contained 18 species of wild flowers – including lesser knapweed and ox-eye daisies as well as the wonderful, sweet-smelling vernal grass that will evoke memories of long-lost hayfields for those those lucky enough to remember them. All species should be able to thrive in the clay soils found in Peel Park.
- Each Brownie scooped one pot of carefully weighed seed mixed with sand to sow in their square metre(s). © Carl Tarsey
A pollen and nectar count for Plantlife revealed one particularly rich square metre contained 30 daisies, 6 common mouse ear and 20 mouse ear hawkweed. If this were replicated across this entire grassy area, it would support 500 hour-long foraging flights for an adult bumblebee or 2 entire bumblebee colonies for a day. The total pollen could support 321 mining bee brood cells/larvae or 32 bumblebee larvae. More info can be found here
The bank may take four to five years to establish, but every year we should see a positive change that will help moths, bees and butterflies find their feet as well as providing a feast for our own eyes.Thank you to all the volunteers who helped to sow the bank – for wildlife and for the future.
- Everyone had a lot of fun and now all we have to do is wait for those seeds to sprout! © Carl Tarsey