Council explains plan to reduce mowing and leave wildflowers to grow in Milton Keynes

The move will encourage more bees and biodiversity

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:28 pm

Wildflower verges and meadows are to be increased all over MK in a bid to encourage more bees and beetles.

As part of its sustainability strategy and intending MK become one of the world’s greenest cities, Milton Keynes Council is creating new "biodiverse spaces".

These will include new woodland and wildflower corridors throughout the borough, including along MK’s famous grid roads.

Wildflowers growing in Milton Keynes

The council also planning to reduce its mowing cycle, where it safe to do so for driving sightlines, to allow plants to flourish.

It further intends to build 'green roofs' on bus shelters all over MK. Already 30 of these roofs, featuring hardy sedum plants, have been provided and more are planned in partnership with town and parish councils across the borough in the future.

The council says more than 1,000 pollinating species such as bees and beetles could be benefiting from all this work,, already plants such as Bee Orchids are beginning to make a local comeback.

In the last century, around 97% of native wildflower meadows were lost across Britain, and bees and other pollinators are in decline.

One of the green roofs on an MK bus shelter

Wildflowers provide food – including pollen - as well as shelter and places to breed for insects. The insects themselves then provide more plentiful food for creatures up the chain such as birds, bats and amphibians.

A council spokesman said: "As a result of the council’s action, the number of wildflowers along miles of green spaces has increased, which has a positive impact on more than 1,000 different species."

He added: "If you’d like to help increase the biodiversity in Milton Keynes, you should plant a variety of flowers in your garden (ideally ones with different flowering times) including native wildflowers. Don’t be too fast to trim lawns, especially those with dandelions or clover. And you might want to add a bee hotel or even just a small rock pile as a place for creatures to live.

Wildflowers seeded in Milton Keynes include:

Bee orchids are making a comeback in Milton Keynes

Rough Hawkbit (Leontodon Hispidus) – yellow petalled and sometimes mistaken for a dandelion, this plant produces one of the highest amounts of nectar and can even smell of honey.

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) – also called thousand-leaf and nosebleed plant, these white flowers were historically used to stop the flow of blood from wounds. One superstition said plucking yarrow and putting it under your pillow would allow you to dream about – and meet - your true love.

Ox eye daisy (Leucanthermum Vulgare)– also called moon daisy as the blooms are so bright they can appear to glow in moonlight, each plant can produce up to 26,000 seeds.

Self-heal (Prunella Vulgaris) – part of the mint family, this purple herb is edible and has been used by aboriginal cultures to treat ailments.

Betony (Stachys Officianlys)– also known as bishopwort, this purple plant was planted in ancient churchyards to prevent ghostly apparitions, as well as being revered by apothecaries for medicinal purposes from treating snake bites to preventing drunkenness; even today it is used to treat migraines and blood pressure.