Thanet District Council has created seven wildflower meadow sites across the isle.
The scheme led by the council’s Open Spaces team with support from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust -which advised on the scheme and provided funding for seed mixes – involved initial work at sites in Ramsgate, Margate, Westgate and Birchington.
The sites include plantings at Ramsgate Arts Primary and King Ethelbert School in Birchington.
The council says it has introduced wildflower meadows as they provide the perfect habitat for a wide variety of pollinators. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths are vital for food, economy and environment, but sadly they are in serious decline. The loss of pollinators is a direct threat to the food supply and biodiversity in gardens and countryside.
It is hoped to expand planting areas in 2022.
The initial wildflower areas are:
Lymington Road, Westgate-on-Sea
War Memorial banks, Westgate-on-Sea
King Ethelbert’s School, Birchington
Ramsgate Cemetery, Ramsgate
Ramsgate Arts Primary School, Ramsgate
St Laurence Churchyard, Ramsgate
Tivoli Park, Margate – the largest of the meadows at 900 square metres
The areas were prepared by removing the turf using a turf cutter. This reduces the competition from grasses and gives the seeds the best start on bare soil. The wildflower seeds (perennial meadow wildflowers, soft grasses and native cornfield seeds) were then sown by lightly raking them into the soil. This was carried out in the 2020 winter season and early spring of this year so that the meadows would flower in the summer.
In the first year, there has been a wealth of flowers, while the perennial layer develops below.
To create an established meadow that returns each year, aftercare is needed. After flowering has finished, seeds will be allowed to ripen, before the spent plants are cut and removed in Autumn. This is a natural way of allowing seeds to fall in the meadow for next year. Other seeds will be collected and possibly used on other sites to create further wildflower meadows next year.
In addition to environmental benefits, wildflower meadows offer a resource for environmental education. As part of this, Thanet council worked with Ramsgate Arts Primary School and King Ethelbert’s School in Birchington to develop wildflower meadows on their school grounds.
GRASS community group in Cliftonville has also contributed to the funding of meadow wildflower plugs which will be used for the creation of a new meadow in the autumn.
A number of isle groups have been promoting and growing wildflower areas, including Thanet Biodiversity group, Thanet Trees and residents who are transforming a green space at the Sandhurst end of Knockholt Road in Broadstairs.
Volunteers in Westgate and Ramsgate Town Council have also planted wildflower seeds and Cliffsend resident Beryl Harrison has created a bee friendly garden.
Karen Vost, Head of Art at Ramsgate Arts Primary School, said; “The meadows planted have had an extremely positive effect on the school’s playground environment. Not only do they look beautiful and create a more stimulating view, they have also brought pollinators to the playground and the children are learning about this rich ecosystem.”
Adam Solly, Director of Houses, King Ethelbert School, added; “The wildflowers have been a huge success. Our Year 7 gardening team helped to plant the seeds in our wild garden beds, in and around some existing saplings. The children have been amazed at how quickly they have flowered. The flowers have had a positive visual impact on the school grounds and we are delighted. We look forward to doing more projects using wildflowers next year. Thank you to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Thanet District Council and Westgate-on-Sea Town Council for providing us with the seeds.”
More schools have shown an interest in taking part in the programme next year.
Councillor George Kup, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said; “This has been a wonderful project led by the Open Spaces team and we have received a lot of positive feedback. The team has worked with a number of schools for the benefit of pollinators and conservation education which is also great to see.
“Wildflower meadows are critical for increasing biodiversity in the environment, in addition to creating beautiful open spaces for residents to enjoy. I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone involved.”
If you would like to create a wildflower meadow in your own garden or outside space, find more information, including details of the seed mixes that we used and tips for achieving a spectacular biodiverse garden.
If you are involved in a parish or town council and are interested in creating a wildflower meadow in your area, please contact the council’s Open Spaces Team.