Wildflower planting starts on the Stray tomorrow
Last updated May 13, 2021
Photo: Harrogate and District Green Party.

Wildflowers will be planted on the Stray tomorrow in an effort to boost biodiversity and bring colour to busy roadsides.

In recent history wildflower meadows have slipped into a dramatic decline as the species-rich grasslands are ploughed up for housing, farming and roads.

This has prompted a push from campaigners for the young wildflowers called “plugs” to be planted and grasslands left to blossom.

Last year members of the Harrogate and District Green Party called on Harrogate Borough Council to take action.

Now, with the help of volunteers from Bilton Conservation Group, 5,500 wildflower plugs will be planted on two areas of the Stray near Leeds Road and York Place.

The trial could see more areas across the district transformed to support the return of insects from bees to butterflies.

Green Party campaigner Rebecca Maunder said:

“This is a really welcome move that we have been encouraging – it can make a big impact in improving local habitats for our declining wildlife.

“There does also need to be a joined up approach required to increase biodiversity locally and we should cease every opportunity we can.”

Planting will now take place across four days in May with the plugs, hopefully, blooming in September.

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Sue Wood, horticultural officer at Harrogate Borough Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that there are other ways the authority hopes to bring back biodiversity. For example, some churchyards in the district have been left untouched by lawnmowers so they can blossom into meadows.

She also said the planting of plugs elsewhere would depend on the success of the Stray scheme:

“Climate problems and the loss of habitats have had an impact on insects and pollinators so we hope by planting wildflowers we can increase biodiversity.

“It will be a trial to start with but we hope to expand it elsewhere in the future.”

Horticultural Strategy 

In September, Harrogate council revealed its new horticultural strategy which set out how the authority will manage its almost 1,000-acres of green space over the next decade.

The strategy included the planting of wildflowers and extra measures to make sure dogs are kept on leads, but was criticised by Green Party members who welcomed some schemes but called for greater ambition and public involvement.

This forced the council’s cabinet member for environment, councillor Andrew Paraskos, on the defensive with him previously saying “it is in our power to make positive change but we can’t do everything overnight”.

Also included in the strategy are plans for a sensory garden, a review of grass cutting and research into whether parks could be used for bee-keeping.

The wildflower planting comes during a week where the council has faced intense criticism for  replacing raised flowerbeds in the town centre with astroturf .

The fake grass created a hugely negative response on social media and the local branch of Extinction Rebellion took action and removed it from one bed and put in its own plants.

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