Work starts on community wildflower project in Sheffield suburb

Volunteers are working hard to rewild a part of a park which they hope will inspire similar projects across the city.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 3:51 pm

The Friends of Porter Valley, local volunteers and a councillor – with the support of Sheffield Council parks officers – are rewilding a section of Bingham Park called Wilson’s Field.

They hope it will brighten the area, increase biodiversity and inspire others to do the same.

Councillor Barbara Masters representative for Ecclesall ward, said work recently started on site and they expect it to be completed in around five years due to the amount of ground work needed to give plants the best chance of becoming established and sustainable.

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Volunteers at the site.
Volunteers at the site.

She said: “We hope to get a succession of colour for most of the year because this will draw people’s attention to the plants and maintain curiosity.

“If more people get on board with the idea and understand the amount of work involved then we hope that other small pockets in the parks can get similar treatment in the future.”

Coun Masters said the idea came from Peter Bayliss, a local resident, who said the patch between Greystones Road and Highcliffe Road would be ideal for the meadow.

They then met with officers from the parks department and representatives from the Friends of Porter Valley where the idea took off.

A list of suitable wildflowers was drawn up and distributed to volunteers who could grow these plants from seeds.

Following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the team cleared up encroaching brambles from the edge of the woodland at the top of the field and created pockets into which Borage, Cowslips, Hemp Agrimony, Oxeye daisies, Pignuts, Knapweed, Vetch and Fox and Cubs were planted.

There is more planting and sowing planned over the coming months and they will not be using any pesticides at any stage.

Coun Masters said: “Some plants had lost their labels but they’ve been planted anyway and we’ll soon see what they are. That adds interest to the project…

“Parks and countryside officers have been very supportive throughout. They will ensure any mowing on the site will encourage our plants to grow while keeping invasive bramble suppressed. They didn’t mow the field last year allowing the buttercups to flourish this year.

“This is very much a collaborative effort and we hope that it will add colour and interest to a site that can appear monotonous to the casual observer as well as encourage insect and bird life.”

Earlier this year, the council unanimously declared a nature emergency to recognise the significant pressures facing wildlife as their various habitats diminish as a result of things including mowers, glyphosate, recreation and farming.

Coun Masters added an amendment to the declaration to ensure bottom up input in the council’s plans for taking action such as enhancing biodiversity by allowing residents to take over management of grass verges and for local area committees to allocate funding for nature projects.