Pollinator Friendly Symington - including Wildflower Verge Project
Some folk might have noticed a change to the hedgerow behind our wildflower verge along Symington Road South.
We are laying the hedge (a countryside skill that has been practiced for centuries) in order to create a richer nature habitat and completed the first section yesterday (Friday).
Volunteers from our community and the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Nectar Network were lucky enough to be taught by Graeme Walker, one of only a few Scottish instructors, how to lay a 'double-brush' style hedge (the twiggy ends are both sides of the hedge!).
Listen out for a piece about this activity on Radio Scotland's 'Out of Doors' programme.
Our partner; Nectar Network, provided us with a new sign for the wildflower verge (Symington Road South), which we recently erected.
In November, supported by volunteers from Nectar Network, we planted 37 trees (a mix of Hawthorne, Rowan, Hazel, Cherry and Alder) around the village.
Trees provide pollen too!
12.10.2023 Pollinator Friendly Update
Latest news regarding the Pollinator Friendly Symington can be found in the latest newsletter. A link to the newsletter can be found here
23.09.2023 Pollinator Friendly Newsletter
Latest news regarding the Pollinator Friendly Symington can be found in the latest newsletter. A link to the newsletter can be found here.
24.04.2023 Pollinator Friendly Symington Workshop
A Nectar Network workshop to demonstrate how to make your garden pollinator friendly will be held in the Community Hall on 5th April 2023. For further details click here
An Autumn update on the current Wildflower Project status can be found by clicking here
Issues with Dog Fouling
Notable during this year's first survey of the community's wildflower verge along Symington Road South was the amount of dog poo along the verge. Whilst dog poo certainly helps the proliferation of some plants, unfortunately this tends to be the plants that overwhelm and suffocate our wildflowers. So whilst reiterating the general message to pick up your dog's poo, in particular the Community Council is asking dog owners to ensure their dog's poo is removed from the section of verge along Symington Road South between the footpath and the field. With your help, we can look forward to a splash of colour this spring and summer from our wildflowers. Thank you.
March Update and call for Volunteers
As spring is around the corner, it's not long before the group will be starting the 2022 surveys of plants and pollinators along our wildflower verge (Symington Road South).
The group will be aiming to perform a survey of the wildflower verge each week from April through to September in order to identify the plants that are growing along the verge and the insects that are attracted to the plants. This will enable us to compare the 2022 data with that of 2021 and see how our wildflower habitat is developing and what interventions may be required to further encourage wildflowers and pollinators.
If you would like to volunteer to survey our wildflower verge, please contact Dave Houfe by email: email@example.com
For this year, we have now finished our surveying of the Symington Road South wildflower site and it seems timely for me to provide you with an update of the project.
Many thanks to all of the volunteers who performed a survey of the site this summer. As I refer below, this activity is proving invaluable and Nectar Network Co-ordinator; Lynne, has commended our survey work. For anyone interested, next year we will be doing plenty more surveying of plants and pollinators in order to gather more data, which will enable us to understand how our site is developing.
The good news is that we identified about 38 species of flowering plants on our site, the most common of which were Daisy, Knapweed, Meadow Vetching, Ribwort Plantain, Creeping Cinquefoil, Selfheal, Buttercup, Dandelion, Clover, Bush Vetch, Greater Birds Foot Trefoil, Thistle and Vetchling.
The flowers attracted many pollinators in the early summer, including Bumblebees, Hoverflies, Moths and Butterflies. We also came across plenty of Grasshoppers and a few Damselflies and Dragonflies.
However, by August most of the flowering had finished and pollinators were concentrated on a few isolated Thistles.
In an August meeting with the road management agencies, Amey stated it is performing a wider analysis of biodiversity with its road network and will be using the findings from the Symington Wildflower Project to advise this analysis.
However, neither Amey nor Ayrshire Roads Alliance (ARA) has yet undertaken their own site surveys, which means the investigation phase of their projects (whilst obviously related, each agency has its own independently managed and funded project) has not yet begun in earnest. Consequently, and in order to advance our project, we have shared our survey data with the agencies. Unfortunately, difficulty obtaining agency representation at this time has inhibited our efforts to review the data with Amey/ARA and agree necessary intervention in verge management.
Consequently, and in order to use the short window of time available this year to enhance the site, we intend to pursue the following actions:
On Friday 24th September, Ayrshire Rangers and Nectar Network are planning to cut the grass on our wildflower site, which is the strip of verge adjacent to the footpath and furthest from the road. We will need volunteers to help collect the grass cuttings - which will help reduce the grass and provide more of an opportunity for wildflowers to grow.
So if anyone is available that day to help collect the grass cuttings, your help will be much appreciated.
On a subsequent day, we will need volunteers to help Ayrshire Rangers and Nectar Network hard rake and scarify yet to be determined sections of the site and sow wildflower seed.
The seed mix will contain plants that can be expected to flower later in the summer and yellow rattle will be sown to help reduce the grasses.
Please contact me if you might be able to help with either of these activities.
As you might imagine, our wildflower site will look less attractive during this process. So please that this work will hopefully benefit the wildflower habitat in future years, which will both attract more pollinators and provide more colour.
The Symington Wildflower Project is now an official Irvine to Girvan Nectar Network partner.
Finally, thanks to everyone to has helped keep Symington Road South litter free. It really does help give our wildflower site an appealing outlook.
Symington Community Council
Our Wildflower Project has developed to the point that we are now seeking volunteers to perform the following activities:
We intend to regularly survey the Symington Road South site in order to identify species of plants and flowers, and to identify the species of pollinating insects that are being attracted to the site.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust has kindly offered to run some workshops, which will last for about an hour and demonstrate how to perform such surveys. If you would like to take part in one of these workshops, please contact the Community Council by email; firstname.lastname@example.org or Dave Houfe by phone; 07792 818139.
As you will hope and expect, in order to prevent harm to wildlife and to present the wildflower site as best we can, we aim to minimise litter along Symington Road South. We have obtained several litter pickers and red litter bags from South Ayrshire Council. If anyone would like to obtain these items in order to pick litter from our wildflower site (and any other areas!), please contact the Community Council by email; email@example.com or Dave Houfe by phone; 07792 818139.
Community Consultation Feedback
The aim is to post timely updates on the Project, so please check from time to time for new postings.
This first post is to inform you of the results of the Community Consultation and provide feedback to the accompanying comments.
We are delighted to say all of the 85 survey responses support the project.
Through a change to their management of the verges, Amey (contracted by Transport Scotland to maintain and improve the motorways and trunk roads across the South West of Scotland) and Ayrshire Roads Alliance (delivers shared Council roads services to East and South Ayrshire) are essentially enabling the project. Amey and ARA consider the results of the consultation to be a mandate for the project from the community and both are now pressing ahead with their areas of the project (Amey from the A77 to the 30mph signs and the remainder to the village is ARA).
Included in the survey responses were 34 comments (in red italics), which we would like to respond to here.
‘Great idea’ (and similar comments)
Thanks, your moral support is appreciated.
‘And any other verges; appropriate areas around the village’
‘Can we extend it to the hill coming in to the village from the Troon side?’
‘Don't think it should be just south rd’
‘Great idea for the village!! Would encourage this at any site in the village that is deemed suitable.’
‘It's a fantastic idea hopefully will be a success and extended’
‘I would be very much for all communal lawn areas to be wild flower friendly and would love to volunteer’
‘It's essential that we build on the engagement we've had during lockdown to improve our relationships with nature and the environment.’
At the moment, the Community Council, Amey and ARA are concentrating on the verges along Symington Road South in order to to see how well this project works before considering other similar projects around the village. This shouldn’t prevent the pursuit of similar intiatives by other community groups. Amey and ARA are treating this as a pilot project, the principle and practice of which they hope apply to other community based wildflower verge projects.
Whilst Amey and ARA are enabling the project, community involvement is key to its success and an important aspect of our engagement with the management agencies is to understand how volunteers can be involved in activities such as surveying the plants and insects.
‘May have to be aware of high salt from roads. As some species would not grow well.’
A very good point. Amey and ARA have already stated that any newly introduced wildflower species will need to be tolerant of road salt and this is an aspect that the project’s ‘design’ will take account of.
‘Really add to beauty of the village’
‘This would be beautiful there are loads of people who walk round here regularly thanks hope it happens’
‘Think its a great idea much nicer to look at too then just cut grass’
‘It would bring colour and life to the verges. A great idea.’
‘I think it is important to encourage nature.’
‘I think this is a fantastic idea! I am so fond of wildflowers and enriching/supporting the local biodiversity is so important. Just brilliant news that this is being considered!’
‘The more we can do to sustain wildlife in our village the better as much of their natural habitat has been lost over the years.’
‘I think this is fantastic and would be fully supportive of any and all projects that promote biodiversity, wildlife and tree/flower planting. I look forward to seeing how the verge looks this summer. Please consider further projects like this. Let's make Symington a shining example of promoting and nurturing local, native and crucial plants!’
‘Wild flower seed is expensive and unpredictable. You would get good results the first year but as not annuals the perennials take over which are not as attractive but of benefit’
Amey, ARA and The Scottish Wildlife Trust have been very clear that cultivating a wildflower meadow or verge is not easy and, for various reasons, the results may vary from year to year.
The plan for 2021 is first to ‘investigate’; let the grass grow in the allocated areas and perform surveys in order to determine what plant species already exist and the insects that are attracted to the site. Then, towards the end of 2021, assessment of the surveys will help determine the ‘design’; i.e. the actions required to enable the desired habitat. Though we have yet to discuss details, Amey and ARA have been clear that they want the community to be involved in the design.
‘As long as it has been planned well and not just an excuse not to cut the grass there!!’
The planning is extensive and not cutting the grass will prove more burdensome for Amey and ARA in the short term because their processes need changing to ensure continued compliance with regulation (it is apparently more difficult to not get the grass cut!). The grass will still be cut, but in the allocated areas it won’t be cut as often; possibly just once this year.
‘My bees will love it!’
We look forward to seeing your bees!
‘There may be opportunity to monitor the benefits of this project by measuring species richness and abundance over time for both plants and insects. Potential for local project or liaison with interested students. May help showcase the success to others.’
We are pursuing the educational aspects (the project will hopefully provide learning for us all) and I hope to provide more information in future posts. As indicated above, Amey and ARA are using this project as a pilot and yes, I very much hope to be showcasing our wildflower verges to others in the coming years.
‘Would be great to see no litter there too’
‘I think its a great idea but might be spoiled by litter’
Your concern is justified, particularly as litter is more likely to be caught by longer vegetation, and we will be asking for volunteers to litter pick.
If you have any other comments or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org