This year saw a fantastic initiative where the city council experimented with the introduction of some new wildflower areas across the city. These were a brilliant addition to both St Peters and Battenhall.
Most of these new wildflower areas were created by clearing the ground and seeding with a proprietary wildflower seed mix. The results were stunning. However I saw an opportunity in one area of Battenhall to go further. This is the triangular field near the old Convent playing fields and the Duck Brook. This is a special area that, when the area was still farmland, was in all likelihood never ploughed nor intensively farmed. As such this little pocket of land is a treasure trove remnant of an ancient wildflower meadow.
Over many years, probably decades, the grass in this area has been mowed diligently perhaps 10 to 12 times per year. Each time the wildflowers grew a few millimetres their tops would then be chopped off! Thankfully the seedbank is amazingly resilient. This year, perhaps the first time in a generation or more the grass was allowed to grow.
What a result! The plants that emerged are indeed the remnants of an ancient meadow. We have already seen species such as birds-foot trefoil, knapweed, ox-eye daisy, lady’s bedstraw as well as different flowering grasses that are easily overlooked. Over the last thirty years or so over 97% of the county’s wildflower meadows have been ploughed up and the wildflower habitat destroyed. The wildflower area has now been mowed and the grass cuttings removed from site. This is important as if the grass cuttings were left on the ground it would be a natural fertiliser that would allow other grasses to out-compete the wildflowers and so harm our wildflower meadow.
Our wildflower meadow create a habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, cover to protect field mice and voles and the wildflower seeds creates food for birds. Here’s to less mowing and more biodiversity.
Cllr Louis Stephen
Green Party councillor for Battenhall