Gardeners at Blenheim Estate – the homes, land and commercial property business of Bleinheim Palace – have been busy sowing millions of wildflower seeds in and around the Oxfordshire estate, with plans to create wildflower meadows the equivalent size of 5 Wembley Stadiums as part of significant conservation project with Rowse Honey.
Visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Oxfordshire this summer will be treated to a kaleidoscope of colourful wildflowers, with over 70 native species on display, including purple cornflowers, pink foxgloves, yellow cowslip, dandelion, red common poppies and wild strawberries.
The new five-year partnership between the Blenheim Estate and Rowse Honey will create a ‘pollinator paradise’, consisting of at least 50 acres of pollinator-rich meadows and 124 miles of hedgerow. The initiative will provide local wild bees and other pollinators with a sustainable nectar source and introduce new habitats for insects and birds.
Filipe Salbany, bee conservationist at the Blenheim Estate, said: “The natural environment we have here at the Blenheim estate is a true paradise of biodiversity, with ancient woodlands and thousands of acres of untouched land.
“It’s home to an incredibly rich and diverse range of flora and fauna, including over 50 nests of rare forest honeybees that we discovered just last year.
“These bees are a unique ecotype; a honey bee that is unique to this ancient habitat and that has not only survived by using centuries old trees and habitat but developed an exceptional relationship with this rare landscape.
“Whatever their specific genetics, we believe these to be related, in some way, to the wild honeybees that foraged and survived the English countryside for centuries.”
“The wildflower meadows and hedgerows we’re planting as part of our conservation project with Rowse Honey will create new habitats for our local wildlife, providing them with shelter and vital nectar sources throughout the year.
“We’ve chosen to plant a selection of wildflowers that have been native to Britain for centuries, with the longest possible flowering season in mind.
“We’re doing this gradually over five years to protect our existing ecosystem, but there will be lots to see this summer when the first wildflowers start to blossom.”
Reports conclude that approximately 92% of wildflower areas* and around 118,000 miles (c.50%) of hedgerows** have disappeared in the UK since World Wars I and II – largely due to intensive farming methods. This loss of habitat and forage supply, along with disease, have caused populations of pollinating insects to dwindle.
Rowse’s Managing Director, Ian Ainsworth, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Blenheim Estate, close to our home in Wallingford in Oxfordshire, to help provide rich nectar sources, at scale, helping to secure the future of bees, raise awareness of their plight and highlight what we can all do to help protect them and other local pollinators.”
“As well as significantly increasing the native wildlife diversity by connecting areas of forest and ancient woodland, the aim of this ground-breaking partnership is to engage consumers and visitors to the heritage site and wider Blenheim estate in the importance of nature, pollinators and sustainable land management.”