Over the winter months we’ve spent several days with our fabulous volunteer team working at the entrances to Haig planting for pollinators so there will be some bare ground over the next few months. Last autumn we planted a variety of native bulbs and this year we’ve used seeds to create some wildflower areas. We hope some of these will flower in the summer and bring colour alongside vital food for our pollinators, but the best show will be next spring (2021!) after everything has had a year in the ground.
It might seem like planting wildflower seed and bulbs might be a simple task but it actually involves a lot of hard work. First the areas of long grass are cut and the cuttings have to be raked off and removed. Luckily we have our trusty ‘bank commander’ mower which we use to cut the uneven ground, and our team of volunteers get stuck in to rake the grass off to the side to make sure the ground is as clear as possible.
Then we clear the plots ready for seed sewing or bulb planting. We’ve decided to create lots of smaller plots similar to a chequer board rather than one large area. We hope that the wildflowers will self seed and spread over the coming years, and having the wildflower areas more spread out will help this process along.
Then comes the exciting task of spreading the seed or planting bulbs and covering the plots with turf to give some protection from the wind, rain, frost and inquisitive birds! And then the waiting begins. We hope that we might see some signs of wildflowers this summer but it’s possible not everything will flower this year so it may be a long wait until summer 2021 to get the full, colourful effect!
This is all part of our work with Cumbria Wildlife Trust to ‘Get Cumbria Buzzing’ and increase the amount of food available for pollinators across the county.
Our wild pollinators are in trouble. More than half of UK bee, butterfly and moth species have declined in the past 50 years, and 30 species of bees face extinction. Over the last 75 years we’ve lost 97% of our flower rich meadows, 50% of our hedgerows, and 60% of flowering plants are in decline.
There are many reasons for this decline, including the intensification of agriculture, the increased urbanisation of our villages, towns and cities, and the construction and expansion of major road networks. Much of the remaining flower rich habitat which our pollinators depend on is now seriously fragmented or degraded.
Peacock butterfly basking in the sunshine
Angle shades moth
To combat this loss we’re working with local Cumbria Wildlife Trust and a host of other organisations to take action. More information can be found here. We’ll be doing more work as part of this project throughout the year so keep an eye on the events page and facebook site for details of how you can join in.