Buzzing with success

At the tail end of last year the Keep Scotland Beautiful, It’s Your Neighbourhood, pollinator-friendly award went to Bonnie Dundee. It was a close call. The standard of entries was exceptional, and in today’s blog we celebrate the many pollinator-focussed projects taking place up and down the country.

Here’s a look at the highlights that added up to good news for bees, hoverflies, and other pollinators. And all this despite the difficulties of creating during a pandemic.

In Edinburgh, The Friends of Saughton Park planted a ‘wild’ orchard to go alongside their ‘trained’ orchard in their walled garden. With the addition of fruit bushes, native hedging and a dash of wildflower seeding you can see that this group went out of their way to offer pollinators a helping hand. 

Not too far from Saughton lies the Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre. A mix of wildflower meadow, an orchard, fruit and vegetable areas – and there are plans afoot to increase the wildflower meadow considerably. There is a lovely social element to the work in Drylaw with social interaction and teamwork lying at the heart of the ambitious plans here.

Starbank Park lies in the Newhaven area of Edinburgh. Pollinator-friendly planting has seen a switch from bedding plants to annuals, and the cosmos, nasturtiums and marigolds went down well with pollinators last year. There has been an emphasis on community involvement, which included the establishment of a seed library so as folk could do their bit for pollinators in their own gardens, patios and window boxes. Leaving dandelions to flower in the park for hungry early bumblebees was another popular and highly beneficial move.

North Edinburgh Arts group has a strong focus on butterflies, and do this incredibly well. By providing nectar-rich flowers, new wildflower beds, and generously handing out batches of seeds they have encouraged the local community to get involved in both helping butterflies specifically and taking a range of pollinator-friendly actions generally.

Glasgow of course has the ‘Dear Green Place’ name and we weren’t surprised to get a clutch of high standard entries from Scotland’s biggest city.

Grow 73, a charity based in Rutherglen, has the aim of local growing, increasing biodiversity, and improving the local environment. Their community garden at Overtoun Park is their hub but a project to create a green pollinator pathway from Rutherglen train station through to Cathkin Braes shows they are thinking big. Planting around the station, and in Rutherglen Main Street, has already helped pollinators and in contributing to national recording schemes they have helped establish a clear picture of which insects, and in particular pollinators, are present in their area.

Over at Yorkhill there was great news.  Solitary bee hotels were installed and used, over 900 spring bulbs were planted, and seasonal forage was planned to ensure pollinator resource from early spring to late autumn. Sensitively managed wildflower strips and contributions to key pollinator recording activities rounded off a very impressive body of pollinator friendly work. In the heart of Glasgow it’s clear the dedication of this highly skilled team has revitalised the area for pollinators.

The North Lanarkshire Corridor Community are transforming the greenspaces between Muirhead and Chryston. Working in partnership with the Seven Loch project and Paths for All they have raised awareness of pollinators and planted pollinator-friendly shrubs and wildflowers. Around Gartcosh railway station the group went with a range of native trees and shrubs to create a pollinator patch that they hope to replicate in Chryston in due course.

One-hundred and thirty miles north, in Aberdeen, Denburn Tennant’s Association make the most of a small garden in the busy centre of town next to the theatre. The community here describes itself as elderly, but the activities suggested a youthful outlook as they realised a mix of flower and vegetable planting which makes the area around this multi-storey high rise much more pleasant for pollinators and people alike.

Just outside the Granite City lies Cove, and here the local Woodland Trust have planted a range of trees and reinstated a local hedgerow. Allied to the addition of wildflower planting they have crafted a lovely walk that has been a boon to the local community. The addition of a sensory garden, with a range of herbs, has attracted a diverse range of pollinators, so all in all a very nature-rich territory has been created.

It’s a fair hike from Aberdeen to Duns, but the town in the Scottish Borders is of a like mind when it comes to pollinators. The focus of the cleverly named ‘Abundant Borders’ group is partly local food production and the vital role our pollinators play in that process, and partly skilled habitat creation. A new wildflower meadow on the Todlaw Estate was a roaring success. Sustainable and organic growing methods allied to community engagement, and some rich ‘wild areas’, have created an excellent mix.

Watch us Grow also lived up to their name.  When they noticed that their raised beds weren’t performing as well as they used to, they quickly realised that they were lacking in pollinators too. A bit of rewilding was in order, and soon wildflowers and pollinators were back. Given the loss of the bulk of 2020 to restrictions of one kind and another the group are happy to report that nature has got on with the job and that the site is now a pollinator (and other wildlife) haven.

It is incredibly heartening at a time when we face the twin perils of biodiversity loss and climate change to find so many community groups consistently pursuing a pollinator friendly agenda. By rolling up their sleeves, and doing their bit in their patch, these highly motivated groups deliver for pollinators and persuade others to follow suit.