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City park to get new wildflower meadow

Published: 26 July 2023

City park to get new wildflower meadow Devon Wildlife Trust - Wildflower displays at Ludwell Valley Park

A new wildflower meadow is being created to bring colour and wildlife to an Exeter greenspace.

The 4.5 hectare Northbrook Park, adjacent to Topsham Road, is owned by Exeter City Council and managed in partnership with the charity Devon Wildlife Trust.

The Trust is planting a hectare of the former pitch and putt golf course with wildflower seeds as part of efforts to improve the site for people and wildlife.

The task of making a new meadow will take place over three weeks in late August and early September. First, an area the size of two football pitches will be mown and its grass removed to be composted. Then machinery will re-profile the area, smoothing out some of its lumps and bumps. A harrow will then be used to break up the ground’s topsoil before a mix of locally sourced wildflower seeds will be sown by Devon Wildlife Trust staff.

Next spring the meadow’s first flowers will appear. Greater knapweed, catsear, cowslip, yellow rattle and meadow buttercup are among the 24 species of wildflower which will provide colour for visitors and a much-welcome nectar source to local bumblebees, butterflies and moths.

Chris Moulton is Devon Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserves Officer. Chris said:

“Over the years we’ve successfully created new wildflower meadows and planted wildflower mixes on arable fields around Exeter’s six Valley Parks. The wildflower displays at nearby Ludwell Valley Park have been spectacular this year. They’ve proved very successful and provide an important wildlife resource for insects who feed on their nectar and birds who feast on their seeds. Local people also tell us that they love the colour and nature they bring to the city.”

Exeter City Council Leader Phil Bialyk said:

“It’s great news that work is starting on the re-wilding of Northbrook Park thanks to the efforts from our friends at the Devon Wildlife Trust. When we spoke to people last year about this green space they were overwhelmingly in favour of our plans to prioritise wildlife and maintain a peaceful and tranquil space that all members of the community could enjoy. I can’t wait to see the plans take shape.”

Access to Northbrook Park and its rights of way will remain open while the work planting the wildflower meadow takes place. Emily Cuff is Devon Wildlife Trust’s Nature Recovery Officer. Emily said:

“People can expect to see some machinery at the park during the preparation and planting period, but disruption to visitors should be minimal. We’ll place signage around the area affected explaining what’s going on and asking people not to walk on it. Next year the wildflower meadow should begin to show its true colours.”

Wildflower planting is just one of the improvements being made to Northbrook Park. In 2022 a public consultation showed that more than 90% of local people approved a vision to create an arboretum with open areas and meadows. Last winter local people gathered to help Devon Wildlife Trust plant 450 new native species trees, while an orchard is also planned along with upgrades to benches and a popular footpath which runs through the heart of the site.

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