Wild flowers making Bedford Borough friendlier for bugs and bees

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As part of the ‘Bugs and Bees’ project, the Council is planting new hedgerows, wildflower meadows, and reducing grass cutting in areas of the Borough.

Just before Christmas, a new native hornbeam hedgerow was planted at Great Denham Sports Pavilion. This new hedgerow, alongside others in the Borough, will help support our local wildlife by providing shelter, foraging and nesting.

The Bugs and Bees project launched in the summer and saw the Council receive lots of requests from local residents for areas where a more wildlife-friendly maintenance regime could be put in place.

As a result, the Council is trialling more areas where the grass is not mown but instead left to grow naturally.

Residents can expect to see this in specific areas of Jubilee Park, Brickhill Drive open space, Kempton Riverside Path at the end of Mill Lane, and Longholme Way.

By not cutting the grass it creates natural wildflower meadows, allowing local native species to bloom and provide pollen and nectar.

The Council has also brought this approach out of the parks, and onto the streets last year. On roadside verges, the grass must be cut short to ensure that people can see and that junctions are safe.

However, the grass is often left long at the back of the verge away from the road. This is an important way to encourage wildlife such as invertebrates, butterflies and bees into the heart of the urban area.

Native wildflower meadows are going to be sown in Woodlands Country Park, Great Denham and Addison Howard Park during the spring.

These will take two years to fully establish, and will provide an important source of nectar and pollen for local pollinators. Other wildflower meadows are also being sown in areas across the Borough.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said, “The bugs and bees project is a great opportunity to make our parks, open spaces, and even our urban areas greener, and make our Borough a friendly place for our native pollinators. 

“With a mix of mown areas where people can walk and play and areas that are left to develop more naturally in our parks, more hedgerows and trees being planted, and wildflower meadows this project is set to bring real variety in our approach to world around us.

“These areas and maintenance regimes will be regularly reviewed to see how they are progressing, and if trials are successful then additional areas will be added. If you would like further information about this project, or to suggest an area that the team could look at, then please email bugsandbees@bedford.gov.uk

Bedford’s Green councillors commenting on the plans:

Bedford’s Green councillors have been consistently pushing for more wildflower meadows and reduced grass cutting, putting some ward funds towards wildflower sowing and other planting within Castle Ward.

Ben Foley and Lucy Bywater.

Ben Foley said: “We are glad to see these changes and would like to see an acceleration and expansion, learning from experts elsewhere.

“Creating these areas is better for the planet and saves the council money at a time when cuts are being made to all sorts of services.”

Lucy Bywater said: “It might take a bit of adjusting for people who are used to artificially ‘tidy’ roadsides, but this is a great development that will help produce areas that will, at their best look even better, while helping improve the chances of vital pollinators and wildlife.”