SASA Guest Blog: The Wild Flowers
Jeremy Ede is Chair of the Biodiversity Group at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA). He shares his story of how he and his colleagues created a wildflower meadow at the SASA headquarters on the outskirts of Edinburgh. With a world class laboratory, glasshouse and experimental farm facility, SASA is a community of around a hundred scientists and support staff who ensure the quality, safety and security of our food supply in Scotland.
2015 was a great year for the biodiversity group here at SASA. Our wildflower meadow came into bloom for the first time and was truly beautiful, with many different species of butterflies and bumble bees feasting on the flowers. I know we are extremely lucky in having a large area to work with but even the smallest area is of benefit to wildlife and I would urge anyone keen to brighten up their workplace or indeed home or flat to think about window boxes and pots planted with wildflowers.
Packets of native wildflowers are readily available over the internet in all sorts of sizes and mixes. For keen chefs a few herbs would not go amiss and woody plants like thyme and rosemary will last all year round.
In late summer we had an inaugural walk of our newly created woodland path which was walked by nearly 40 members of staff. This took a lot of hard, but enjoyable, work from the volunteers on the group and members of the Farm and Horticulture departments and the result is fantastic. The woodland walk is one area that we are especially proud of here at SASA; it meanders gently up a slope at the side of our main building for about 300m, from the burn canopied by lush willows, alder and birch to the wildflower meadow with beautiful views towards the Pentland Hills.
Over the course of the next few years we will be opening up new paths and continuing to add native wildflowers. The Scottish Government’s Environmental Management Team helped us buy about 200 fruit trees — mainly apple but also damson, pear and plum — which we will plant along the edges of our fields. Together these will create a beautiful haven for wildlife both big and small, with the added benefit of having relaxing and stimulating areas for staff to enjoy.
So, as spring approaches, I know it feels a long way off; we are looking forward to a busy and inspiring year, working on our new projects and continuing to improve and nurture our established projects. I will keep you all updated with our latest work as the seasons go by and if you need any inspiration for your own projects please get in touch with me or the Environmental Management Team at the Scottish Government.