East Dunbartonshire Council are one of a number of councils converting much of their bland amenity grassland into wildflower meadow. Under the expert influence of Jackie Gillespie they have made great strides, and as I found out recently, they aren’t finished yet.
I visited four locations around the Strathkelvin area and saw at first-hand how they are slowly but surely delivering a transformation that is going to be great news for pollinators. And I rather suspect that people are going to like it too.
I started my tour at Lennoxtown in the shadow of the Campsie Fells and the popular cycling challenge that is the famous Crow Road. Bathed in sunshine down by the River Kelvin I came across a stunning wildflower meadow. This rich meadow is just a few years old and in summer a glorious technicolour feast for pollinators. The ever-popular John Muir Way runs alongside the meadow and the area is well noted locally. Asking for directions revealed a degree of local pride in ‘our meadow’
During my visit I saw red-tailed bumblebee, various hoverflies and a generous smattering of butterflies. It was clear that as a source of food the meadow was doing a great job.
A quick hop along the road and I found myself in Bearsden’s Cluny Park. Here a four-year old meadow was perhaps going over, but had, judging by the comments I heard, made a huge impression locally. Sandwiched between the Bears Way cycle route and busy A81 and has become something of a local landmark. The weather was sunny and fine, the mix of grasses were swaying in the gentle breeze and cyclists were gliding past … all in all a most tranquil scene on the fringes of Scotland’s largest city.
If the Bearsden meadow is highly visible then the equivalent in Torrance could accurately be described as being ‘tucked away’. This is a new meadow so at the moment the planting has just been completed. As anyone who knows about meadows will testify, you need patience. It isn’t much to look at just now, just a series of pock marks on the grass but given time an array of wildflowers will pop through. No two meadows are alike, no single meadow is the same year on year … and always there are challenges. Here the challenge might be the proximity to the River Kelvin and the banks of rosebay willow-herb patiently poised for areas to spread into. Time will tell.
My final port of call was Milton of Campsie, where like Torrance, works are at an early stage. I feel the folks of Milton of Campsie are on the verge of being spoiled, for the ambitious folks at East Dunbartonshire Council have gone for not one, not two, but three meadows. The new meadows promise to give pollinators some great forage in addition to the plethora of gardens that are a proud hallmark of this community.
Creating meadows is a sure-fire way to help pollinators. Tackling historic loss of habitat, and a shortage of food, is an incredibly practical step to take to help deliver Scotland’s pollinator strategy. It hasn’t been easy, and it may not look at its best yet, but in time what East Dunbartonshire Council have done will be mightily well-received – by people and pollinators.