Scots grow wild to save native flowers

Fern Britton will host a new gardening-based TV show. Picture: Jonathan Hordle/REX
Fern Britton will host a new gardening-based TV show. Picture: Jonathan Hordle/REX
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UNLOVED spaces around Scotland are set to bloom with new life and colour this year as a spring campaign gets under way to save native wild flowers and help the survival of birds, bees, butterflies and beetles.

With 97 per cent of the UK’s wild flower meadows having disappeared since the 1930s, a wide range of creatures have lost the habitat they need to survive.

A new £10.5 million scheme, called Grow Wild, aims to inspire communities around the country to transform neglected urban areas.

The UK-wide initiative, led by Kew Gardens and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, will today reveal community projects around Scotland that will receive funding.

The winning Scottish projects have scooped £40,000 for sites in the Lothians, Glasgow, Fife, Argyll and Bute, Stirling, Falkirk, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Shetland and the Scottish Borders.

Ranging from derelict pieces of land, neglected railway sidings and unsightly public toilets, the spaces will get a new lease of life with seeds being planted by local volunteers.

Some of the nation’s most threatened wild flowers include purple milk-vetch, field fleawort and pheasant’s-eye. Plants supplied by Grow Wild for projects north of the Border come from Scottish native seeds and include the endangered vetch.

The schemes will also incorporate art installations, moss graffiti and sensory gardens to attract people and wildlife to previously disused spots.

A spokesman for the scheme said: “In the UK we’re lucky to have some amazing wild flowers, but we’re in danger of losing them as their natural habitats are being lost.

“The good thing is that we can do something about it. As well as creating spaces that will benefit local people and wildlife now, we’ll also be able to hand them over to future generations.”

One of the projects involved is Edinburgh’s Citizen Curator group, which has won £4,900 for its Balfour’s Botany project in the city’s Pilrig Park. It is inspired by the Balfour family, responsible for founding Scotland’s first physic garden and consolidating Edinburgh’s current botanical gardens. The Balfours are famous for their passion in promoting and communicating botany.

Through workshops and events, the group aims to create new planting schemes and installations to reinterpret the influence of the Balfours for today’s generation.

Garden designer for the Pilrig Park project, Becky Govier, said: “As well as engaging with the communities that live and work around the park, we will jointly create fun and exciting artwork that will bring much needed colour to an overlooked area.”

Glasgow’s Gorbals Healthy Living Network has been tasked with creating a wild flower meadow in the Oatlands. The meadow will surround a community growing area of wild flowers and an orchard designed to help integrate old and new residents in the area and attract more wildlife to the area.

The latest planting drive comes amid a mushrooming interest in all things green-fingered, with TV presenter Fern Britton hosting a new series reminiscent of the 1970s sitcom The Good Life. Grow, Make, Eat: The Great Allotment Challenge will follow nine couples digging for victory to be crowned the nation’s best gardeners.