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A few years ago in the lower field overlooking the Dee estuary and the Welsh Clwydian Hills a species-rich wildflower grassland was established as a habitat for wild bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and a wide range of other invertebrates plus habitat for birds, small mammals and larger mammals such as badger, that use the site as a foraging area. The wildflower grassland sprang into life in April 2008 when an area of rough grassland, almost two hectares in area, was ploughed to a depth of up to one metre (inverting the whole soil profile) bringing sandy subsoil to the surface, in order to create a suitable infertile habitat for the establishment of meadow wildflowers. The creation of the this area was possible due to a gift of £10,000 from the Friends of Ness Gardens which covered the cost of ploughing and British native wildflower seeds which were sown on the area.

annual wildflowers FL1

The established species-rich grassland, in summer 2008, provided a spectacular display of cornfield annuals such as cornflower, corn marigold and corn chamomile. In subsequent years a much wider variety of plants have established, flowered and dispersed seeds and 90 species have been recorded by an enthusiastic group of volunteers. Our volunteers have recorded 16 different species of butterfly including the scarce Wall Brown and Small Copper, Small Skipper and Common Blue plus eight species of Bumblebee. The wildflower grassland strongly enhances the existing key role of Ness Botanic Gardens as an important high biodiversity hot spot in South Wirral.

The original meadow project has now evolved into a grander scheme, 'Wilder-Ness'. With generous financial support from the FONG committee we are developing a much wider range of wild habitats across the informal parts of Ness Gardens. These include wet fen meadow, rough grassland for small mammals and for our resident colony of harvest mice, woodland ground flora and renovation of our ancient hedgerow.  The project will include provision of new interpretation boards, leaflets and posters explaining differing aspects of the rich biological diversity that exists in Ness Gardens. A 'Wilder-Ness Nature Trail' booklet has been produced and following 'road-testing' will be revised and made available in the visitor centre shop. It will also be available to FONG members on your website page as a pdf document that can be downloaded. Later this year there will be a new shelter (and information point) located at a spot with views over the meadow and Dee estuary and nearby a new 'hotel' which will provide a breeding site for wild bees

  Wilder-Ness logo

Click on above image to access the Wilder-Ness diary blog to find out news and progress on the project.