We love a good tree-lined street and can't help but envy Islington's campaign to beautiful their tree pits by encouraging locals to underplant with flowers. These flowers not only look beautiful and smell lovely, but attract and support pollinators and wildlife as a food source.
So, we were excited in April when London Wildlife Trust's posters went up around out neighbourhood announcing a series of planting days to depave previously unloved areas and install native species. Over the last few months, London Wildlife Trust have done a lot to improve our local community (Dulwich/Herne Hill--South London). They've:
So, being involved with a local initiative to plant pollinator-friendly plants within our area's tree pits, lovely Helen seemed a natural resource for guidance. We asked what sorts of plants would suit the conditions within tree pits and she immediately responded with thorough guidance--perhaps you'll adopt a local tree pit and benefit from her guidance, as well:
"My understanding with tree pits is that you don’t want anything with roots that are too deep that you have to dig down into to avoid damaging the tree’s roots. Here is a little (and by no means comprehensive!) list of suggestions for small plants that would go nicely around the trees that are also easy to get hold of from garden centres or online (sometimes it can be hard to source less mainstream wildflower species in normal garden centres).
· Pulmonaria (lungwort)
· Armeria maritima (thrift)
· Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower)
· Primrose (also good for moths as they are visible at night)
· Ajuga reptans (bugle)
· Erigeron karvinskianus – lovely daisy like creeping flower but it can take over a bit so use sparingly!
Then sprinkling some wildflower seeds (any standard mix of annuals - poppies, cornflowers, corn cockles…) will bring you some cheerful colour this year and won’t tend to grow too high. A more detailed list is available here from the RHS which shows the season in which all plants flower to help you choose a selection with flowering all year round for any bugs that happen to be about throughout the year. The general rules for wildlife friendly planting are single layers of petals so the pollinating insects can get in easily, native species if possible (but not essential) as they provide for more insects at more life stages than non-native, and the year round availability of nectar.
Also, it would be lovely to add some bulbs, this is a good website for wildflower bulbs (http://www.naturescape.co.uk/acatalog/british_native_bulbs_in_the_green.html) and has details about when which ones are available as it can be seasonal."
So, if you don't have plans for this weekend, adopt a local tree pit and bring pollinators back to your street!
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