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Hutton wildflowers for enhanced wellbeing and a better environment

Wildflower seeds are being sent to Hutton staff and students
"The wildflower initiative aims to support our staff’s physical and mental wellbeing and provide educational support for their children, while simultaneously benefitting our local environment"

The UK has seen an unprecedented upsurge in gardening during the current lockdown, and as the nation finds itself restricted in time spent outside of their homes, it is only natural to try and make the best of the green areas which we can access and interact with – our gardens.

Recognising the widely acknowledged benefits of gardening for physical and mental health, the James Hutton Institute has sent each member of its staff and its UK-based students a small pack of native wildflower seeds to create a one-square metre area of wildflowers.

Wildflowers are good for our environment, as they provide pollinators and other insects with food. This has a positive impact on other animal species who rely on these insects for food, including birds, bats and other small mammals.

Professor Deb Roberts, Director of Science, said: “At the James Hutton Institute, we are looking at the positive steps we can take as an organisation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The wildflower initiative aims to support our staff’s physical and mental wellbeing and provide educational support for their children, while simultaneously benefitting our local environment.

“Sowing native wildflower seeds in gardens at home may not contribute to their conservation in the wild, but it will help provide for our struggling pollinators, many of which have specific associations with wildflower species.”

The seed mix contains both annual plants that should flower this year, as well as perennials and biennials which are better for pollinators and will continue to flower in coming years. Brief instructions on how to plant the seeds are given on the letter enclosed with the seeds but more information is also available on the Living Field website.   

A number of the Institute’s staff have worked together in developing and delivering the initiative and have also volunteered to help answer any sowing, growing, or species identification questions that may arise. The initiative counts on the support and expertise of the North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership (NESBiP) and of the Institute’s Living Field Garden team.

NESBiP is a non-profit making partnership working to protect and promote the biodiversity of North East of Scotland on which much of the region’s social and economic wellbeing depends, and the Living Field is a community garden established in 2004 at the Institute’s Invergowrie site to promote the study and enjoyment of plants and animals of the croplands.

NESBiP has been closely involved by providing support and advice about growing and managing the wildflowers, as well as the expected benefits for local wildlife. This initiative complements an on-going NESBiP project, which supports community groups wanting to develop wildflower areas by providing free native wildflower seeds along with support and advice on management.  

The Partnership’s Co-ordinator, Alex Stuart, is based at the Institute’s Craigiebuckler site and commented: “I’m thrilled the institute has chosen to provide wildflower seed that is both native and local to Scotland, which will make a big difference for our local pollinators and Scotland’s biodiversity.

“Even small areas that help our declining insect pollinators are also directly helping farmers and growers, whose crops like soft fruit, oilseed rape, beans etc. benefit so much from being pollinated by insects.”

In the absence of planting this year, the Living Field team have created a Twitter account to post seasonal images and notes from past years beginning at the Spring equinox. You can follow them at @LField2020.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/hutton-wildflowers-enhanced-wellbeing-and-better-environment on 15/08/20 12:02:42 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.