River of colour commemorates First World War

Published Tuesday, 25th March 2014
Wild flower display
Wild flowers on West Bawtry Road

Flanders Poppies will be a feature in the Council's highly-acclaimed and innovative planting scheme along the town's main roads this year.

Work has now begun on the next phase of reinstating summer wild flowers along dual carriageways and roundabouts across Rotherham.

This year the new planting will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War with a special mix of wild flowers, called 'Old Comrades'.

The mix will be sowed along central reservations which, because of road improvements and utility works, need re-seeding. These include the section of Bawtry Road from Wickersley Roundabout to Church Lane in front of Wickersley Comprehensive and the section in Rotherham Town Centre from Main Street roundabout to College Road roundabout and towards St Ann’s roundabout.

The Council is also planning to seed several roundabouts, including Grafton Bridge in front of the Rotherham Leisure Centre, Bradmarsh Way at Ickles and Parkgate Retail World, which are to be sowed with the wild flower seed mixture for the first time.

The seed mix has been specially developed for the anniversary by local seed company, Pictorial Meadows, and contains a mix of different poppies, including the Flanders Poppy - the symbol of remembrance,  as well as later flowering annuals that will emerge after the poppies fade.

The seed mix will be sowed in April approximately three weeks after the grassed areas have been treated with weed killer.

The re-seeding is the latest phase in the "invest to save" scheme geared to reducing maintenance on central reservations. Last year, an eight-mile stretch along the A630 and A631 - from Hellaby to Rotherham Town Centre - was sowed with several tonnes of wild-flower seeds and flowering bulbs.

The resulting floral display last summer was given the thumbs-up from the public, who contacted the Council in their hundreds to register their approval. There are also considerable benefits for wildlife along the central reservation as the flowers and relaxed maintenance provides nectar and food sources for insects, birds and small mammals as well as shelter and nest building materials.

Cllr Gerald Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development, said the scheme is an experiment and that it will be interesting to see how well last year's displays re-flower this year.

"It looked really fantastic last year with hundreds of compliments received from local residents and visitor as far afield as Scotland, Cornwall and even Australia," he said.

"But the seeds are sown on a two-year cycle, so we will have to wait until the summer to see how they perform. The newly-sown areas this year will provide a poignant reminder of the First World War while early next year (2015) the whole eight mile run will be refreshed with new seeds."