Bristol recently experienced a burst of community-driven environmental enthusiasm as volunteers gathered on Clifton Downs for a fourth wildflower planting day. With the goal of helping Bristol City Council achieve their target of managing 30% of public land for wildlife, engaging the local community, and enhancing nature in Bristol, the event drew 15 dedicated volunteers.
Project organisers West Bristol Climate Action (WBCA) collaborated with architecture and design practice Stride Treglown and with University of Bristol's students. Together they involved a diverse range of participants, enthusiastically getting together to maximising the impact of this wildflower planting project on Ladies Mile, Clifton Downs (site location with What3Words).
Carefully curated wildflower selections from Emorsgate Seeds in Bath included species like Yellow Rattle, Salad Burnett, and Ladies Bedstraw. This selection was tailored to suit the soil type and have a low impact on the nearby Avon Gorge, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The planting process, executed in collaboration with Bristol Council, involved an initial grass cut followed by the use of a scarifying mat behind a tractor. Volunteers then raked excess material, revealing bare soil where the seeds were meticulously placed. The compacted soil, a result of the area's history as a car park for Bristol Zoo, required a combination of mechanical and manual labour to address.
Anticipated benefits for the local community and environment included improvements in mental well-being, visual enhancements to the area, cleaner air, and increased biodiversity. An educational component, led by Dan Geerah, the volunteer coordinator, provided insights into the different plants and their ecological roles - including a detailed overview of how Yellow Rattle can help reduce pressure from the grass to allow the flowers to thrive.
While challenges initially included securing permissions from the council and The Downs Committee, the event's success was evident in the diverse and joyful group of volunteers. Engaging with curious members of the public and enlisting the help of a nearby rugby training group further demonstrated the positive impact of the initiative.
The momentum doesn't stop here, as another wildflower planting day is scheduled for November 18th at Ashton Meadow, near Cumberland Basin in Bristol.
For those interested in contributing, funds can be raised through the Crowdfunder page, and volunteering opportunities are available through the West Bristol Climate Action website. Excitement for the next planting day is mounting, and each wildflower symbolises a collective effort towards a greener, more vibrant Bristol.
"It is amazing how powerful nature can be to human bonding and well-being. By sowing wildflower seeds, people visually become happier."
Dan Geerah, Volunteer Coordinator for West Bristol Climate Action
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