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UK: Call the cavalry! Horses ride to rescue of an inner city garden

Plant force … PC Ben Ballard, right, riding Clyde, and PC Jo Brown on Iris create divots and trample in seeds at the Barbican Wildlife Garden. Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

Mounted City of London police receive a surprise order: to help trample in wildflower seeds at the Barbican

By Phoebe Weston
The Guardian
Dec. 28, 2020


The garden’s lead volunteer, Jo Rodgers, wanted grazing livestock to come and stamp in autumn seeds but there are none in London’s financial district. Instead, she called in the local police horses who came and walked around it for 30 minutes as part of their community engagement work. “In the countryside, you graze animals after you’ve cut the grass to help churn up the soil. We tried to think about getting in sheep or goats, and then we thought, ‘Horses!, we have them locally!’” she says.

Grazing animals play an essential role in maintaining traditional wildflower meadows because their hooves create dips and furrows that help push seeds into the soil and create microhabitats. More than 97% of the UK’s wildflower meadows have been lost since the second world war.

The Barbican garden is a fifth of the size of a football pitch and half a mile from St Paul’s Cathedral. It was created on the remains of a building bombed during the blitz. The meadow is about 10 years old, and already has poppies, cornflowers, oxeye daisies, bristly oxtongue and marjoram, most of which are self-seeded. Toadflax and viper’s-bugloss are new arrivals this year. “When you walk in, you think: ‘Oh, just a bit of grass,’ but it’s an awful lot more than a bit of grass,” says Rodgers. “You have to be on your hands and knees to see them, but we’ve probably counted 200 species of invertebrate.”

Read the complete article here.


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