Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Making Leeds a pollinator-friendly city

Following the success of the Urban Pollinators Project flower meadows in Leeds in 2013 (for a reminder see here and here) you may have been wondering what's been happening over the past 12 months.

The good news is that many of the project flower meadows have been retained and some have even been enlarged.   The City Council have retained two perennial meadows in Leeds, one in Burley Park and the other in Stanhope Recreation Ground.  Although they haven't been quite as spectacular as last year, they are still proving popular with pollinators and people.

Perennial meadow in Burley Park, Leeds, including yarrow and knapweed

Perennial meadow in Stanhope Recreation Ground, Leeds, with lady's bedstraw, oxeye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil and knapweed

Of the 10 annual meadows that were created across Leeds in 2013, seven have been resown in some capacity again this year.  Some of these have been sown with the same seed mix as last year, while others are being converted to perennial meadows which may be a more sustainable long term option.  The City Council have also introduced some flower patches in new locations, including Rodley Park and Penny Pocket Park.

Common poppy flowering amongst the gravestones in Penny Pocket Park, Leeds city centre

The local community in Alwoodley, North Leeds, were so keen on the meadow that they hosted in 2013 that a whole series of new plots have been created along King Lane this year.  These new meadows will provide a network of floral resources that will enable bees and other pollinators to move through the urban landscape.  The annual meadow along the Ring Road in Seacroft has also been retained and extended, while the annual meadow in Middleton Park is beginning to flower again very nicely.

Our favourite shaped annual meadow in Middleton Park, Leeds, with a smattering of cornflowers

In addition to the flower meadows, there are a number of other initiatives underway aiming to make Leeds a better place for pollinators.  In collaboration with Buglife, Friends of the Earth and Natural England, we have formed Bee-Friendly Leeds and we are actively working with community groups across the city to restore wildlife sites and create new habitats.  Leeds City Council are exploring ways of managing road verges more sympathetically for pollinators and the wild plants on which they depend, and here at the University of Leeds the Sustainability Garden continues to provide an oasis of colour in an otherwise grey and lifeless part of the campus.

The Sustainability Garden at the University of Leeds
Although the Urban Pollinators Project is coming to an end, research continues across Leeds on the best way to manage our urban habitats for pollinating insects as we seek to reconcile the requirements of wildlife in the city with what people need from their urban green spaces.   


  1. I'm doing some research on Penny Pocket Park at the moment and this week saw council workers very assiduously spraying weedkiller on the heavily-cut-back wildflower roots (which were absolutely beautiful for months, and I managed to collect quite a lot of seed). There seems to be an inconsistent approach to these spaces by the Parks department- clearly on this day, someone had decided they were weeds....

  2. Beautiful! We should be doing this everywhere.