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Wildflowers add splash of colour to campus

A wildflower bed near Arts A, June 2013.

Wildflowers outside Sussex House, June 2013.

Bee- and butterfly-friendly wildflowers, planted last year, are currently adding a splash of colour to campus.

Poppies (common field poppies and also the colour variations known as Shirley poppies), cornflowers, larkspur and others have this week begun blooming in several locations on campus - on the green between Sussex House and Falmer House, at two sites to the front of Arts A and on a bank near the Meeting House.

The idea of creating areas of nectar-rich forage on campus came from Dr Karin Alton, a honey bee researcher in the University’s Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI). Away from Sussex, she runs FlowerScapes, who supply special seed mixes for creating habitats that attract pollinators.

The patches were sown last autumn with a FlowerScapes seed mix called the Monet mix, which is inspired by the French Impressionist painter’s use of reds and blues.

Dr Alton explains: “Our pollinating insects have suffered major declines; honey bee colonies, for instance, have decreased by three-quarters in the last century, and two species of bumblebee have become extinct. One of the major sources of this decline is lack of food resources in the wider countryside.

“I approached Andy Jupp in Estates last year to see if he would like to join forces with FlowerScapes to create some areas on campus that would be beautiful to look at, but would also provide extra forage for bees and other pollinators. He was very keen to support this, so last year we created several large beds and they are now flowering.”

The importance of wildflower meadows to wildlife has been highlighted on a national scale today (Wednesday 5 June 2013) with the announcement of the creation of 60 “Coronation meadows” – one for each county in the UK.

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Thursday, 6 June 2013