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Wildflower Meadow Gets Underway With a ‘Rattle and Hum’


Autumn is here, but a task force is out next weekend Saturday September 28, 10am - 1.30pm in Colin Glen Forest Park to create a wildflower meadow in west Belfast in time for spring. 

It comes after the harvesting of native seeds that are one of the most vital ingredients in creating a wildflower habitat.

The seeds of the yellow rattle plant, known as Rhinanthus minor, are key to encouraging wildflowers to grow that help wildlife flourish. They keep down the grasses which otherwise would muscle out the rarer meadow plants.

Collected over the summer months, the seed will be used on a patch of ground in Colin Glen Forest Park.

It is hoped that flowers including cowslip and spotted orchids, birds such as owls, meadow pipits and skylark, mammals - Irish hare, harvest mouse and bats - and insects like the common blue butterfly, burnet moths and bumblebees, will benefit from the initiative.

These species depend on healthy habitat and many have suffered falling numbers in recent years with the depletion in wildflower meadows.

The project is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnership Scheme, which is tasked with developing the landscape of the Belfast Hills through community action.

The scheme’s Volunteer Officer Freddie Harris said an essential ingredient for encouraging the new wildflower meadow, was yellow rattle.

He explained the task force of volunteers would be cutting away some of the old grassland and sowing the yellow rattle seed - the first stage in creating a wildflower meadow.

He said:

“Wildflower meadows and grasslands are our most diverse yet most threatened habitats. They are rich in wildlife, landscape character, folklore and history.

“Yellow rattle is fantastic as it acts as a parasite against the grass and reduces the amount that can grow.

“This allows wildflowers to grow up naturally through the gaps left by the weakened grass and we can sow more wildflowers next year if we need to.

“The seeds need to be sown before the start of the winter as they require a cold snap to germinate.

“Wildflower meadows are a really important habitat and food source for a large variety of birds, bees and butterflies so we look forward to next spring and summer to see the Colin Glen wildflower meadow in full bloom.”

Get in touch with Freddie Harris if you would like to take part on 02890 603 466 or freddie.harris@belfasthills.org

For more information, click here.