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Newlands Spring Primary School pupils embrace wildflower planting project

Students from Newlands Spring Primary School teamed up with Chelmsford City Council’s Parks team to plant over 20 species of wildflowers at Copperfield Road Play Area.

This project aims to bring more nature into local green spaces and get young people excited about caring for the environment.

It builds on the ‘Space to thrive’ initiative, which rethinks how the city council maintains the 1,700 acres of grassland it's responsible for in the district. By increasing the amount of grassland habitats, pollinators are provided with additional stopping points as they travel along their ‘habitat corridors’. Whilst humans can’t always see these highways for bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other wildlife, they are essential for providing food and shelter.

Involving younger generations in the planting exercise helps them to see a bigger picture of the nature around them. They’re more likely to show respect and continued care for spaces they help nurture and develop.

Newlands Springs Y5s (15 Mar 24) Wide Shot 1

Eco Council leads the way

Pupils from Newlands Spring Primary School’s Eco Council led the way for the first planting session at Copperfield Road Play Area. The Eco Council consists of students across all year groups who love nature and the environment. The budding environmentalists planted ‘plugs’ – young plants grown from wildflower seeds. They were guided by the city council's Parks and Conservation Volunteer Leader.

The wildflowers chosen are native to the UK. As the flowers flourish, they will provide a food source for a range of pollinator species and increase the biodiversity of the space by encouraging birds, bats, bees, and other wildlife to visit. The work of the Eco Council pupils will help turn the urban space of Copperfield Road Play Area into a colourful wildlife haven.

With the flowers now planted, the city council’s Parks team will manage their ongoing care and growth. By late summer, these flowers will spread their seeds, encouraging more blooms to appear in the future.

“I liked that we had gloves on, so we didn't get dirt on our hands. We got to plant saplings and when all the buckets were empty, we got a pencil!”

Oliver, Year 1, Newlands Spring Primary School

Year 5 students get involved

A second planting session at the Copperfield Road Play Area followed. This time with 60 Year 5 students from Newlands Spring Primary School. They planted both plugs and 'seed bombs' – balls filled with wildflower seeds – in a different part of the green space. With support from the city council Parks team, they learned how to how to ‘stamp’ the seed bombs into the ground.

The seed bombs contained 12 different wildflower species, including perennial, biannual, and annual plants. Their growth will be slower than the plugs but will still result in adding colour and a source of food for pollinators.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the gardening. I love the hobby and I do some in my own garden. I love helping nature thrive and it might just be the best thing I've ever done to help it.”

Sofia, Year 5, Newlands Spring Primary School

The types of wildflowers planted include:

  • red campion
  • garlic mustard
  • tufted vetch
  • birdsfoot trefoil
  • common cat’s ear
  • cow parsley
  • kidney vetch
  • lesser knapweed
  • meadow buttercup
  • ox eye daisy
  • wild red clover
  • wild carrot
  • black medick
  • salad burnet
  • yarrow

Cllr Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford, wants the planting project to benefit both people and wildlife:

“As the mix of wildflowers begins to germinate and bloom, the area will become a vibrant and colourful local landscape that grows more beautiful year on year. Visitors to the play area will enjoy a more dynamic space to explore, and the pupils who helped to create it can admire their hard work and understand the lasting contribution they've made through small acts of kindness like this.

"The flowers will provide an excellent nectar source and resting spot for pollinators, especially bees on their travels, and create a vital link with nearby grassland habitats. In turn this will support more wildlife, including birds and bats to establish even further across Chelmsford.

"Giving grassland habitats like this space to thrive will reap so many benefits. It’s wonderful that local young people are being given the opportunity to learn through engagement in habitat restoration and conservation.”

Cllr Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for a Greener and Safer Chelmsford

The school’s Assistant Headteacher, Jenny Lindop, explained how fortunate they felt to be involved in the project, and the rain didn’t dampen the children’s excitement!

“The children have all been so enthusiastic and it is lovely that it is so close to our school, allowing many children to see it develop as they pass by each day. We feel proud to hear them talk so passionately and knowledgeably about nature, wildlife and biodiversity - not only when they were taking part in the planting but also in relating this to their own experiences too. It is very clear that they appreciate and want to positively impact the environment for the future.”

Jenny Lindop, Assistant Headteacher, Newlands Spring Primary and Nursery School

More information

Signposts have been left in the newly planted green spaces nearby to the Copperfield Road Play Area to explain this is a designated ‘space to thrive’. If you’d like to find out more about how Chelmsford manages grasslands around the district, you can find a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions on the council’s websites to help explain more about the policy. Keep a look out for more space to thrive signposts in the future.

Close up of seed packet and space to thrive pencil
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Charlotte Maltby
Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes about the environment, parks, recycling, business, planning, public realm and democratic services.