Highland roundabouts provide wildflower haven

A biodiversity experiment at Inverness roundabouts has proved a blooming success while saving The Highland Council money on grounds maintenance.

In a joint project between Brown Earth Landscapes and The Highland Council’s TEC Services, four roundabouts in the City were planted with mixed wildflowers and the results are now flowering at three of the roundabouts in a colourful display attracting much public attention.

The original conception of the wildflower planting came from Claire Reading of Edinburgh-based Brown Earth Landscapes who approached the Council in December 2007. Her idea was inspired by similar planting at the Broxden Roundabout in Perth. Brown Earth Landscapes secured an Action Earth Scottish Natural Heritage Biodiversity Award of £250 and attracted local volunteers through the internet to help on the project.

Three of the roundabouts are located on the Inverness Trunk Link Road or Sir Walter Scott Drive (B8082) at the junction with Dores Road in the west; at ‘Wades Roundabout’ where Old Edinburgh Road crosses the TLR; and at the east end close to the Police station and the junction to Inshes Retail Park and Inshes School. A fourth roundabout on Leachkin Road, has yet to flower.

Peter Kelly Highland Council’s Horticultural Officer at Bught Nursery in Inverness prepared the roundabouts by rotivating and de-weeding and at the end of April 2008, local volunteers worked over two days with Claire Reading to seed the roundabouts. Over the dry spells Peter watered the flower beds.

Leading producers of wildflower seeds in Scotland, Scotia Seeds Limited, provided two types of seeds for the project: an annual cornflower mix; and a perennial mix. It is expected that the annuals will last for about two years and as the perennials establish they will produce more daisies and grasses. To add colour and height to the displays foxgloves will possibly be added to compliment the smaller wildflowers depending on their progress.

Claire Reading of Brown Earth Landscapes said: “With the extremely dry weather in May it was a nail-biting five weeks with no rain, but after the rains in June everything took off and we now have a fabulous show of colours with the cornflowers, poppies, corn-marigolds and ox-eye daisies. I would like to thank the volunteers for all their hard work.”

Iain Wallace, Highland Council’s Area Roads & Community Works Manager said: “This is a win, win situation as not only do we save on grass cutting expenses, but the flowers also provide a beautiful natural display which have been commented on. By the nature of their locations, the roundabouts also provide havens for wildlife, including birds and butterflies.

“We will be reviewing the outcomes of this experiment, which has received positive public feedback, to ascertain the savings to the Council and also to consider further expansion of this model of wildflower planting.”


23 Jul 2008