Bee on pink flower

The Project

Contract Date: 2014 – 2024

Queen’s Park is a traditional Victorian park located within the town centre of Loughborough. The park features a bowling green, bandstand, play areas, a water feature and two ornamental ponds. idverde UK has maintained the park since April 2014 under its Management of Open Spaces contract with Charnwood Borough Council.

In the past the planting scheme around the bandstand utilised traditional bedding plants such as double begonias and castor oil plants which were in keeping with the park’s Victorian heritage. Although the displays were florally prolific and eye catching, the plants used often had very little value to bees and other pollinating insects because they were either sterile or very poor sources of nectar.

This year however, idverde UK’s horticultural team decided to challenge the more traditional formal bedding schemes in the twelve flowerbeds around the bandstand, by creating displays that  utilised only plants that were nectar rich –  specifically for bees and other pollinating insects, whilst also providing maximum floral impact over the  summer season.

The flowerbeds were designed to look more like traditional herbaceous borders, having an informal structure rather than the rigid, traditional formal bedding schemes. This combined with the utilisation of plants with differing heights and textures helped to provide additional visual impact. The most important aspect of the new designs was that all of the plants chosen were known to be particularly attractive to bees and pollinating insects because they were very rich sources of nectar and pollen. The plant species selected included varieties such as: Argyantheumum, Verbena bonariensis, Cosmos, single flowering Dahlias (Happy Series), Antirrhinum, and Cleome.

The same plant species were used in all of the rectangular beds around the bandstand, but each adjacent bed used a different colour palette of the same plant. The colours chosen were yellow/blue and pink/blue.

The planting scheme exceeded our expectation both in terms of the number of bees and pollinating insects that were attracted to the flowers, but also in terms of its floral impact. We have received many compliments on the display and, more pleasingly, the beds have been used as an educational tool for local children.

Honey and bumble bees were particularly attracted to the single dahlias, as indeed were many different species of hoverflies, whilst the verbena bonariensis and Cosmos proved to be popular with butterfly species including, Speckled Wood, Large White, and Holly Blue early in the season. As a bonus, the floral display has been particularly long lived (still flowering and looks great at the end of September) and has continued to provide a valuable food source for the bees and late emerging butterflies such as the Red Admiral and Comma.

Charnwood Borough Council and idverde UK’s work to encourage pollinators to Queen’s Park was recognised in this year’s Bees Needs Awards, organised by Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag Awards, where it received a rating of ‘Highly Commended’.