WPA wildflower meadow

14 September 2021

Why did we plant a wildflower meadow?

For many years at WPA, we have had a large lawn area to the side of our main office building in Taunton, Somerset. Spearheaded by our Employee Voice and Leadership team, it was decided that we could make better use of this space by allowing it to return to a more natural state, introducing some native wildflower species to create a habitat that has been in decline for many years across the UK.

The intention of this new wildflower meadow was twofold. First, we wanted to create a new colourful and varied outdoor environment for employees to enjoy, spend time in and walk around. Second and most importantly, we wanted to increase the biodiversity of our premises, as part of our wider environmental objectives. Providing these kinds of natural spaces is becoming more and more important in the UK, as green-field sites continue to be built upon - in fact, a recent study by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew estimated that 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost in the UK since the 1930's.

Wildflower benefits

1. To support declining populations of pollinators

A broad range of wildflowers can provide a great source of nectar for pollinators such as bees, moths, hoverflies, butterflies and beetles. Supporting these insect populations in turn helps pollinate our crops.

2. To provide a habitat for other insects

Wildflower meadows provide a great source of food for small insects like caterpillars. Others, like spiders, have cover from predators to lay their eggs and in turn they help control pests on crops.

3. To give shelter, food and building materials for other animals

Small birds, amphibians and mammals all take shelter in wildflower meadows, eating seeds and small insects and using the materials to construct their nests.

4. To keep soil healthy

Whilst wildflowers themselves don't need hugely nutrient rich soil, they can help stabilise the soil for other plants, with their root structures, meaning important nutrients aren't washed away by the rain.

The nights are drawing in

With the best of the summer warmth surely now behind us and the flowers starting to die back, we have moved on to the next phase in the life cycle of our wildflower meadow.

To ensure that we have a flourishing meadow next year, we have cut the wildflowers back and allowed the trimmings to sit for a few days so that their seeds disperse back into the soil. We will continue to trim it over the winter to make sure that grasses don't take over and lots of sunlight can reach the soil.

We cannot wait for the first shoots of next year's flowers to appear in a few months' time, signalling the first signs of spring and a new year of wildlife at WPA.