When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Botanic Garden’s meadow is buzzing
THE centrepiece of Oxford’s Botanic Garden has had a buzzing few months thanks to the bumper summer.
Staff planted the 955 square metre Merton Borders – the garden’s single largest cultivated area – last year and it is now in full bloom.
And the border has enabled more than 50 different species of bee to be identified – heartening news given research suggesting bee populations in Britain are on the wane.
The warm summer seems to have played a part in the border’s success. And researchers from Reading University have even visited to study insect life drawn to the meadow.
The ever-unreliable British summer time meant the Merton Borders only came into its own this year, staff say.
Unlike most areas at the Rose Lane garden, the meadow was grown from seeds.
This meant plants were not ordered in from outside, cutting down on polluting transport costs.
And sowing meant staff could cram in more plants per square metre, leading to this summer’s explosion of colour.
Education officer Emma Williams said: “We can grow them fairly close together so there is a real wow factor.
“The summer has been ideal. It has been dry and sunny and the plants are two to three years old. They have flowered really well.”
Researchers studying the garden have been kept busy, she said.
“They have found over 50 different species of bee and are still trying to identify what they are,” she said. “They have not seen them before.”
Horticultural trainee Ness Newman said: “The borders are now in their second year and looking spectacular. Many of the plants are now established and flowering well.”
The project – which faces Merton College – was developed with Professor James Hitchmough from the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield.
The plants were selected from seasonally dry grassland areas to withstand drought conditions.
They include echinacea pallida and mirabilis multiflora from the USA, galium verum and limonium latifolium from southern Europe Asia and helichrysum aureum from South Africa.
Research from the University of Stirling published this week said bee populations were adversely affected by farmers fixed on growing more crops.
Watch a film on the garden at botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk
Comments are closed on this article.