Wildflowers flourish following changes to grass cutting schedule

Thursday, 15 July, 2021

common orchardFrom Bobby in Dallas to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, everyone loves a dramatic comeback. Now, a pilot project to investigate the benefits of changing the maintenance schedule on open grass areas has seen the return of a host of different plants and wildlife.

The Linden Lea, an open area of grass near Redmoss Road in Milton of Campsie, was one of a number of sites identified for a change in grass cutting by Streetscene and Buglife Scotland. It was identified as an area of high biodiversity value and also had a good wildflower, sedge and grass species list, which is usually indicative of old grassland.

As part of the Central Scotland B-Lines Project, this area was cut in autumn only with all the cut grass and flora removed in a departure from the usual, more frequent grass-cutting schedule. This practice removes nutrients and provides space for wildflowers to flourish; essential management for species-rich grassland.

In addition 3,000 wildflower plugs, including Cowslip, Ragged Robin, Ox-eye daisy and Yellow Rattle were planted to add to the existing species of plants.

The plan had originally been that the local community, including school children and Scouts groups, would have been involved in the planting but Covid restrictions stopped this. Nevertheless, the planting was carried out by contractors and the results have been very encouraging.

This summer, Streetscene Technical Support returned to the Linden Lea to check on the establishment of plants and to record the species present. They were delighted to find not one, but three, different Orchid species in flower; Common Spotted Orchid, Northern Marsh and the rarer Greater Butterfly orchid.

Wildlife has also been flourishing following the reduction of grass cutting and additional planting. Insect species are now thriving in the Linden Lea with White-tailed Bumble Bee, Common Carder Bee, Ringlet Butterfly and Orange Tip Butterfly all doing well.

ragged robinJoint Council leader Andrew Polson, said, “The work at Linden Lea is a great example of how local biodiversity can be greatly improved through changes in grass cutting which allows previous hidden plants to flower. It is unfortunate that community groups were not able to be involved as planned, but going forward, the success of this project suggests that more areas may be considered for a similar approach.”

Joint Council leader Vaughan Moody, added, “It is a real delight to see the results of all the planting in Linden Lea and other areas around East Dunbartonshire. We know from our recent engagement ahead of the Climate Change Action Plan that biodiversity is important to residents and this project is a perfect example of how we can enrichen our environment."

Claire Pumfrey, Conservation Officer from Buglife Scotland, said, “This project is helping to restore local populations of bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects, boosting the abundance of pollinators, and allowing them to move freely through the built landscape. The B-Lines network will also benefit a range of other wildlife from small mammals to birds.’’

Buglife staff will continue to survey the Linden Lea and who knows what rare bugs and beasties may be identified as making their home there?