Tales of the City: Art, Cycling and Food

Thu, 03/07/2014 - 09:31

The verges of cycle paths are perfect places to grow wildflowers and there are so many cycle paths all around the UK being brightened up by wonderful native wildflowers, providing a home as well as forage for pollinators. Apart from the fact that bikes do not pollute the air and degrade scent chemicals as car exhaust fumes do, cycle paths lead the cyclist from the city to the country by carrying part of the countryside along the way.  

Sustrans Cycle path in London © Sustrans 

Sustrans is a leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. The Sustrans Greenways often connect parks, nature reserves and other wildflowers enclaves and are Rivers of Flowers in all but name. Visit their website to see what is happening with the Sustrans Greener Greenways, which is helping to improve the environment for wildflowers and their pollinators

Fallowfield Loop in Manchester © David Dixon

Several of the Sustrans cycle lines run along old railway lines and could be called Wildflower Lines.  Even when you park your bicycle, wildflowers can play their part!

Wildflower Plant Lock in Clapham Greenways

River of Flowers began its relationship with cycling in York where the Tour de France will pass during Le Grand Depart on Sunday 6 July 2014. Our first ‘Plant-In’ workshop with volunteers resulted in a Bee Pasture ribbon of all-yellow wildflowers meandering along a Sustrans cycle path outside the urban nature reserve St Nicks where a willlow bicycle graces the boundaries. These sunshine coloured blooms, including Cowslips and Birds-foot Trefoil, were chosen for their delectability to bees and to represent the yellow of the cyclists’ jerseys. The Bike Rescue Project has donated 100 bikes to be painted yellow and dotted around York’s historic streets. 

Yellow Bike in York

River of Flowers York developed the relationship between wildflowers and food by donating a ‘Wild Companions’ selection of wildflowers to four local community gardens for growing with their food crops. Contact us at info@riverofflowers.org for more details about the Wild Companions.

Bristol to Bath Cycle Path © Cecily into the World

In River of Flowers Bristol, our Plant-In with volunteers at Feed Bristol launched an all-blue Bee Pasture of Viper’s Bugloss and Field Scabious among others, representing the sky and sea of this port city. The 15 mile Bristol to Bath Cycle Path, which runs through and between the cities, was the first project built by Sustrans between 1979 and 1985. At the Bristol Bike Project, volunteers planted up a giant wheel with a selection of wildflowers and bee-friendly edible herbs to create the Bee Wheelin’ Garden for the Chelsea Fringe in Bristol. 

 Bee Wheelin' Garden © Bristol Bike Project

The Pop Up Wild Orchard of Crab Apple trees and its understorey of all-white UK native wildflowers, planted outside the Manchester Art Gallery to launch River of Flowers Manchester, will eventually be moved to the apple orchards on the Fallowfield Loop, a Sustrans cycle path in Levenshulme and to Moss Gardens, a community space managed by the Moss Cider Project with other wild trees planned to take their space.

Fallowfield Loop Sign in Manchester

In South London, River of Flowers and Urban Bees worked with Lambeth Council, Father Nature and local residents to create the Clapham Greenways, a new trail of wildflowers flowing through a housing estate to support the community food growing in raised beds with an urban wildflower meadow, Bee Pastures in of blue, purple and white wildflowers and bee-friendly garden plants in raised beds and a series of wildflower-filled Plant Locks. 

Clapham Greenways young helpers © Urban Bees

Purple Betony blooms for bees

For planting along cycle lines near you, why not sow seedballs? The Urban Meadow Mix by Seedball is perfect for pollinator pathways and verdant verges. For every Urban Meadow Mix tin sold, £1 will be donated to River of Flowers to help us to continue putting more wildflowers in the world!