28 Sept 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Just a little helping for pollinators

Wild About Wildlife: Just a little helping for pollinators

The timber sculpture of Donal Mór O'Brien at St Mary's Cathedral

THE early morning cold had lifted by lunchtime, and it was the perfect weather for discovering wildlife. Limerick City and County Council continued their wider promotion of biodiversity with a workshop that explored the pollinator’s habitats at St Mary’s Cathedral, the Council Offices and the garden at the Hunt Museum.

These three spaces have quite contrasting planting and design, but all provide pollen, nectar and shelter for bees and other insects. The main aim of the workshop was to highlight what could be achieved and to encourage people to develop pollinator patches. The workshops were funded by Urbact Health and Green Spaces.

The smell of food lingered along the street as we started our workshop at St Mary’s Cathedral pollinator garden. Under the modern shadow of a timber sculpture of Donal Mór O'Brien, founder of the cathedral, a wildflower meadow has been created.

This is the third season since the meadow was sown and after a lot of trial and error it has really bloomed. The flashy flowers were out and corn marigolds, poppies, viper’s bugloss, borage and mallow all enticed us into the meadow with their colours. Equally as important but not as showy were the native creeping buttercup, docks and nettles and a wildflower patch needs a mixture of both.

The success of the meadow was evident by the humming of the bees and we managed to catch a common carder bumblebee. There was also a large buff tailed queen stocking up for her winters hibernation. There was also lots of honeybees and these were from the hive beside the Hunt Museum. Bees will travel up to two kilometres in their search for food.

Like the busy bees we were soon on the move to the new pollinator garden in front of the council offices. This is planted with more exotic plants but they are also excellent for pollinators.

The garden has a cottage feel about it and the path draws you in to admire the flowers and the insects. A deep mulch helps keep unnecessary weeds down and also retains moisture in the soil for growing plants.

One of the tidy towns groups were very impressed by the design of this pollinator garden and they felt it was something they could do in their own community.

Come spring crocus, snowdrop, grape hyacinth and bluebells will provide food for early queen bees. Planting pollinator friendly bulbs can be done in September, October and November once the ground is not frozen hard.

We left this mini oasis and took the short walk over to the hunt museum. This area has been transformed from a lawn into a haven for people and wildlife. The new seats were occupied by relaxing students, families and couples all out enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

Mini wildlife beds have been created and these showcase that you don’t need a massive garden to grow your own food. Vegetables are not only good to eat they have beautiful flowers. These in turn support butterflies and bees.

Herbs are a healthy addition to the lives of pollinators and are very easy to grow in pots and beds. They like very good drainage so add plenty of stones to the bottom of the container.

The Doons Men’s Shed have also constructed two planters. These are on wheels making it very easy to move them around. The tall flowers of verbena had attracted butterflies. We found a red admiral and a Comma butterfly.

This was a first for me and this butterfly has been slowly colonised Ireland. They are like at small tortoiseshell but have ragged edges and cryptic colouring. A stunning insect to end a very interesting pollinator walk.

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