In April 2018 we started work on a colourful new butterfly wildflower meadow in Milnshaw Park, Accrington. The meadow contains nectaring and larval food plants suited to urban butterfly species.
The first step was to remove a layer of turf and soil from the meadow area. This helps the wildflower meadow to establish by reducing soil fertility levels and removing competitive grasses.
The area was then seeded with a mix of native annual and perennial wildflowers which are suited to butterflies and bees. Beneficial grasses were also sown including sheep’s fescue and common bent.
The first cornfield annual flowers started to bloom in late June 2018 and included common poppy, cornflower, corn chamomile, corncockle and corn marigold.
The perennial flowers began to appear in spring 2019 and included common knapweed, oxeye daisy, viper’s-bugloss, bird’s-foot trefoil and wild marjoram.
As of August 2022, the following 18 butterfly species have been seen in the meadow: large white; speckled wood; small white; common blue; meadow brown; green-veined white; red admiral; small tortoiseshell; comma; small copper; small skipper; peacock; small heath; painted lady; large skipper; ringlet, orange-tip and holly blue.
It’s not just butterflies that are visiting the meadow, we’ve seen a number of other invertebrates too including damselflies, dragonflies, moths, ladybirds, shieldbugs and crickets.
In late summer each year we cut the meadow using traditional scythes and remove the cuttings. The cuttings are taken away and composted. After cutting, we add yellow rattle seeds, along with sustainably harvested local flower seeds.
Not only does the wildflower meadow provide new habitat for urban butterflies, it’s also a colourful addition to the park that can be enjoyed by local residents. Local schools can use the meadow as an educational resource and hold field trips to explore the flowers and wildlife.
We’re also giving away free mini meadow seeds containing the same seed mix used at Milnshaw Park.
The wildflower meadow was the first step towards improving habitat for butterflies and other wildlife in Milnshaw Park. In 2019 we also planted native tree, shrub and wildflowers in other areas of the park with help from the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s MyPlace project.
The butterfly wildflower meadow project in Milnshaw Park has been funded by the Prospects Foundation and EnergieKontor ‘Windfall Fund’, with seeds donated by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, and agreement to work on the land from Hyndburn Borough Council.
If you’d like to find out more or get involved with the project please get in touch.