Russell StreetIt's very encouraging to see a practical initiative to enhance biodiversity and support pollinating insects in Leek, especially one with collaboration between the Town Council and MCA.  The project was initially mooted by Cllr Bill Cawley, working with Cllr Lyn Swindlehurst and Leek Town Mayor, Cllr Stephen Wales, as part of a beeline wildlife corridor concept, and was supported by Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and MCA member, Jane Tattersall, who was responsible for planning the planting scheme for the Russell Street site. Funding came from the Town Council Mayor's fund, Protech Electrical, Keates Hairdressing and Neil Corbishley Aggregates. The planting was done by Stephen, his wife, Julie, and Jane.  She thoroughly enjoyed researching and sourcing the plants used to fill the containers and will continue to keep an eye on them, weeding, pruning and planting spring bulbs. The Town Council's lengthsman, Tony, will be watering the site during the summer and so far the feedback from passers-by has been very positive.  Jane describes the plans and planting here.

20210509 142751 resized"The initial remit for the Russell Street Project was to choose plants that would support pollinators, look colourful and be enjoyable for the town’s residents and visitors. Other considerations were the restricted size of the site, the numerous polluting vehicles that pass by every day and the main utility pipes that pass directly underneath. The site faces due south and as a result gets sun throughout the day.  Consequenty we wanted to select tough and drought tolerant plants that are also loved by bees and other pollinators. We wanted a proportion of the plants to be evergreens too so that year-long interest was provided.

With RHS advice, we decided that a dwarf cherry tree, Prunus nipponica “Brilliant” would be suitable. It will grow to 2.5 metres by 2.5 metres, is hardy and can cope with high levels of pollution. It has flowers that are loved by pollinators too.

20210509 1426340 resizedI sought further advice from the RHS to help us identify plants that were super pollinator attractors and would tolerate the conditions and then, armed with the list of suitable plants, visited several local garden nurseries. In total, the plants were obtained from four nurseries. The cherry tree came from a specialist tree nursery near Leeds.

The planting includes the herbs rosemary, thyme, "Munstead" and "Hidcote" lavenders, dwarf Buddleja, Perovskia and Echinacea. The bed that provides screening for the site is planted with Cotoneaster lacteus. This has recently been found to be highly effective at reducing polluting particles at roadsides, as well as being loved by bees and blackbirds for its flowers and berries. The planters were filled with topsoil and peat-free compost. Following the first stage of the planting, spring bulbs also loved by bees, such as "Tête à Tête" daffodils and alliums, will be planted in the autumn."

Jane Tattersall, May 2021.