Guest blog from Charlotte at A Focus on Nature
Over the Summer, insects have been busily foraging on flowers on which they depend for nectar and pollen. Flying from flower to flower, whether that’s by the zipping flight of a bee-fly or by the bumbling about of a bumblebee, these insects are providing an invaluable pollination service to both wildflowers and many of our food crops.
Unfortunately, wildflower meadows are now a rare sight in the UK and the wildflower meadows we see today are a mere fraction of what pollinators used to enjoy. In fact, we have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows since the 1930’s. In other words, pollinators have lost such a huge source of food and refuge. It’s this loss of semi-natural habitat that is recognised as a major driver of pollinator declines.
Our towns and cities, however, are increasingly recognised as important spaces to provide for pollinators. With pockets of greenspaces such as gardens, that collectively cover more than all the nature reserves in the UK, and even pavements that allow for pots and containers, where we live can really provide a great opportunity for supporting pollinators. Even better, this means that everyone can give pollinators a helping hand right on their doorsteps.
In the Cornish town of Penryn, I am a volunteer for Penryn Buzz, a community group with that exact ethos – encouraging small, ‘doorstep’ actions by individuals to make a big difference for the town’s pollinators. Penryn Buzz was set up by the Town’s Deputy Mayor with the vision that younger generations will experience the diversity and abundance of insects that he once enjoyed here as a young child.
While the Summer sunshine has come to an end, it is not too late to act and help pollinators this year. In fact, Autumn is the time to plan ahead and scatter wildflower seeds for next year’s pollinators.
Indeed, if we look at some of the wildflower species growing naturally around us, it is this time of year that seeds are setting to soon scatter across the ground.
If we scatter wildflower seeds in Autumn, these too can benefit from the seasonal changes in the soil that gives autumn-sown seeds a bigger boost to establish, and to establish earlier, next Spring.
This Autumn, we are scattering seeds in Penryn with a twist – we are Seedballing! These balls, that have been kindly gifted to us by Seedball, are packed with pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds and protective materials (clay and chilli powder to stop nibblers, with a pinch of peat-free compost for an extra boost) to ensure happy and healthy seeds, and in turn, a colourful display of wildflowers that will start to flourish next Spring.
This unique mixture ensures that, once the Seedballs have been scattered on soil or compost in a sunny spot, nature will take over and do the magic! With a few watering cans here and there during dry spells, it really is as simple as that.
With the autumn half-term holidays on the way, it is a great opportunity to get young people involved in Seedball scattering. Penryn Buzz is passionate about enthusing the younger generation to do their bit for pollinators and we are organising an afternoon of family Seedball-scattering at a site where many members of the public (both people and pollinators!) will soon enjoy the wildflowers for years to come.
Scattering Seedballs this Autumn is a rewarding way to thank pollinators for their all hard work this year and for the years to come!
Charlotte is a Conservation and Ecology graduate, with a passion for pollinators and securing pollinator-friendly practices in urban areas. She volunteers for various pollinator projects and charities, including the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife’s Urban Buzz and local pollinator conservation group, Penryn Buzz.
Charlotte is a member of A Focus on Nature, an organisation with a mission to connect, support and inspire young people across the UK with an interest in nature and conservation, and provide a voice for the youth conservation movement! Head over to read Ally Hoadley’s interview about what inspires Seedball co-founder Ana Attlee.