Wild News! Brighton & Hove’s wildflower boom

11 September 2023

Since it declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2018, Brighton & Hove City Council has looked to shift focus to biodiversity conservation starting from the ground up - literally.

The soils around Brighton and Hove are rich in chalk and support a variety of rare wildflowers, insects and animals that make the South Downs their home.

Main image: Autumn Lady’s Tresses growing in a grass verge in Brighton & Hove, summer 2023

Healthy Soil

Creating the conditions for healthy soil is a priority for local strategies.

The City Downland Estate Plan will protect and enhance for future generations the land owned by Brighton & Hove together with the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), residents, farmers, environmental groups and recreational users.

The Community Composting Network reduces household waste through providing composting solutions and education to local people.

Our network of allotments not only improves health but brings people closer to the soil.

The Changing Chalk rewilding schemes, with Greening The Cities and Wilding Waterhall

In 2022 Brighton & Hove trialled the Wilder Verges project which showed that managing verges differently helps local wildlife and biodiversity.

The Wild Park Rainscape is a wetland habitat created to help protect the chalk aquifer from surface water pollution, reduce flooding on the Lewes Road and increase habitats for local wildlife.

Mysteries of a Seed Bank

When the council stopped mowing grass verges during lockdown in 2021-22, rare and wonderful species started appearing including the very elusive Lizard Orchid which appeared on verges in Lewes. This is a sun-loving species not seen in England since 1900 – the seeds had been lying dormant in the soil seed bank, patiently waiting for the perfect opportunity to grow and flourish.

Just last week Autumn Lady’s Tresses orchid was discovered growing on a verge in Brighton and Hove. A delicate plant with plated stem and vanilla-scented white flowers, it is the last orchid to grow in the season.

It is so interesting to see what plants appear when given the chance. Reducing intensive maintenance regimes has given these specialist species an opportunity to seize the chance to bloom.

Bird's Foot Trefoil growing on the pavement in Brighton & Hove

Bird’s Foot Trefoil growing on a grass verge in Brighton & Hove.

What’s Next?

On Sunday the 1st October Buglife will be hosting a morning of community planting at Brangwyn Way Verge, in support of Wilder Verges. Join in and learn about native wildflowers and their pollinating insects with biodiversity experts.

The Living Coast UNESCO Biosphere
Buglife logo

Cheyenne Plant

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