ABERGLASNEY has been working on an exciting rewilding project that has seen the Gardens move away from conventional amenity lawns in favour of sustainable grasslands and wild meadows. Visitors this summer will see for themselves the annual Wildflower meadow at its best.
Turf grass is known to have little environmental and ecological benefit so the team of gardeners at Aberglasney have instead created meadowlands which are essential in supporting and maintaining healthy ecosystems.
The project, which was started ten years ago, has led to the development of wildflower meadows, spring bulb meadows and evolution meadows in parts of the gardens where manicured lawns existed before. This has significantly reduced the amount of traditional mowing and strimming needed across the site.
Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said, “Individually, and in combination, the rewilded areas support a much greater level of biodiversity than traditional amenity grass ever could. The most notable changes have been that honeybees and bumblebees are far more common and honey crop has improved. Mammals such as field mice and invertebrate pollinators are also spotted more frequently since wildflower species have recolonised in the grasslands.”
The remarkable results of the project can be seen across the Gardens as a whole, but most notably in the following new areas:
The Annual Meadow
A more traditional-style meadow of annual British native wildflowers can be found at the top of the Gardens and produces wonderful displays from June to October. A natural seedbank has begun forming here after five years of growth and development, meaning that in time it will no longer require annual seeding. It is cut with a flail mower in autumn to remove organic matter and stimulate harvesting. Corn Chamomile, Corn cockle, annual Corn Flower, Corn marigold, Corn poppy and White Campion have colonised this meadow, along with local natives such as Ladies Smock.
The Woodland Meadows
Aberglasney’s woodlands comprise mainly oak and beech trees in an area that is quite open and sunny. The implementation of woodland pasture management promotes biodiversity in the woodland’s understory by flail mowing it in July and November without removing cuttings. Doing so reduces grasses, brambles and nettles, but encourages Celandine, Bluebell and Wood Anemone. Brambles and other taller plants are allowed to persist around the edges of the meadow to create a diversity of habitats.
Long Grass Areas
These were the standard amenity grass areas that are similar to those typically found in towns and roadsides. Pasture management has replaced regular strimming and mowing – which doesn’t allow plants to flower – so that grass can grow wild before it’s cut in July and, if possible, the process is repeated in November. Doing so creates the perfect conditions for Narcissus which have been planted in large drifts and are thriving in these areas. Pasture management has also been great for wildflowers since the removal of organic matter impoverishes the soil and creates a more favourable environment for them.
The Evolution Meadow
This is an interesting area that is a mini arboretum of Birch Magnolia and other cultivated trees. A different approach from conventional meadow management is taken here: the gardeners simply cut the grass once in October but don’t remove it. This procedure favours woodland plants such as Bluebells, which have already colonised the area very quickly. Over time, as the trees grow and shade the ground, the site will evolve into more of a woodland with new species arriving year on year.
Spring Bulb Meadows
Aberglasney’s Stream Garden was traditionally a combination of long grass with Snakes head fritillaries and amenity grass. Over time, traditional meadow management has been introduced, allowing the grass to grow wild and wildflowers and bulbs to set their seeds before it gets mowed in July and November. The result has been the successful establishment of Narcissus bulbicodium and Fritillaria meleagris – both of which are thriving. In addition to these treasures, separate drifts of Camassia leichtlinii and Camassia cuisickii have been introduced along with the more recent additions of Leucojum aesetivum ‘Gravetye Giant’. Wildflowers such as Ladies smock or Cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis) are also recolonising in this area and produce wonderful spring shows.
Jim concluded, “The aim of this project has been to create sustainable grasslands and wildflower meadows without compromising visitor experience and the team are very happy with the results in all cases. The public have been supportive of what we’re doing and there seems to have been a positive change in opinion with people welcoming biodiversity areas, long grasses and wildflower meadows. We hope the work and results will inspire others to start rewilding their own gardens and green spaces.”
Llandeilo Festival publishes its Entertainment schedule
“CHILDREN AND families are at the heart of our festival this year,” announces festival vice chair Debbie Ince. “On Friday 18th November the festival stalls will start trading at 10am but in the evening there will be the official opening, followed at 6:15pm by Santa coming through the town on his sleigh. A children’s Lantern procession from CK to King Street led by Llandeilo Primary School’s Samba group will meet Santa on King Street to tunes by the Llandeilo Town Band and bilingual hymn singer Ffion Haf. Once the children had their fill of Santa, the Christmas Lights will be switched on by Mayor Gordon Kilby. Local legend singer and actor Harry Luke and Ffion Haf will entertain the crowd until 8pm.”
A spectacular and pet-friendly Laser Show will replace the controversial fireworks at 8pm. “There’s also a tea cup ride on King Street for kids,” adds Ince. “On Saturday and Sunday kids can go to Santa’s Grotto 10 – 4, and on Saturday to St Teilo’s Church or Hengwrt for activities. At our park and ride on Beechwood Estate ‘Sgiliau’ will be open for our youngest visitors.”
“There is of course plenty of entertainment for adults, too,” adds festival chair Christoph Fischer. “From Davies & Co Station Road to Flows on Market Street, most Llandeilo venues will play indoor music, many day and night. The stage will host a variety of acts: from school and adult choirs, bands, solo singers and dance groups, such as Mixed Youth Group, Lotus Sisters Belly dancers and Sunflowers Wales. Cooking demonstrations on Saturday and a Santa Run on Sunday morning round up the festival programme. You can find updates on the Llandeilo Town App Dyma Llandeilo.”
“With our wide selection of street food, arts-,crafts-, fashion- and food stalls there should be something for everyone,” adds stalls coordinator and treasurer Mered Williams. “See you all on the 18th.!”
Carmarthenshire County Council has launched its annual Christmas Toybox Appeal
The appeal, in its 12th year, helps hundreds of children with families who can’t afford to buy toys or gifts.
Last year saw us help more families than ever who were struggling financially with more than 7,700 gifts distributed to 1,287 children. This year during these unprecedented times we rely on support more than ever.
The appeal was launched online for the first time in 2020 following the coronavirus pandemic and people were asked to make a financial donation instead of buying gifts and toys.
This year people can either give a financial donation or drop off gifts from games, arts and craft items to toiletry gift sets for all ages – from 18 months up to teenagers, at one of a number of collection points around the county.
Schools, family centres and youth workers identify those who are in greatest need of support and council staff will distribute them in the run-up to Christmas.
The council’s executive board member responsible for the Toybox Appeal, Cllr Linda Evans said:
“I am proud to be following on from the legacy of Cllr Mair Stephens who sadly passed away earlier this year. The Toybox appeal this year is going to be more important than ever. We have always had fantastic support and this year we hope this will continue to ensure that hundreds of children will receive a Christmas gift. We know times are hard, but if people are able to spare a gift or a donation no matter how big or small, it will make a great difference to those families less fortunate.”
You can make a donation of your choice online at the Christmas Toy Box Appeal website. If you have a cash or cheque donation please call 01267 246504.
To view the collection point locations please visit the council’s website
Donations are being taken up until November 30.
Council responds at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning Service
Audit Wales has carried out a Follow-up Review of Planning Services by Carmarthenshire County Council and concluded that the council has successfully addressed all its recommendations.
In July 2021, Audit Wales published a report following a review of the council’s planning services, with its findings identifying significant and long-standing performance issues in the planning service that needed to be urgently addressed to help support the delivery of the council’s ambitions.
A total of 17 recommendations were made by Audit Wales for the council to address. All of which the report has confirmed have been met.
In response to the recommendations of the report, Carmarthenshire County Council convened an Intervention Board to provide oversight of a 49 point action plan to respond to the Audit Wales findings that were published in July 2021. Over the past 15 months, progress against the plan has been monitored through the council’s governance framework to provide assurance of progress made against the recommendations.
Audit Wales has been following the council’s progress through regular catch-up meetings with the council, document reviews and observing governance and audit committee meetings. They have also interviewed key council officers during the audit process.
Within the follow up-review, which can be viewed on their website, Audit Wales states that:
“The Council is to be commended for the swift, decisive action it took in response to the findings of our 2021 report, and for the way it has driven improvements in its planning service.
“The constructive way in which the Council received our report and acted on the recommendations is a particularly positive example of a Council demonstrating its commitment to driving improvement in service delivery.
“The Council has learnt lessons from the review that it has also applied more widely, particularly in relation to performance management.
“Overall, we found that the Council has successfully addressed all our recommendations and has responded at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning service.”
Cabinet member for rural affairs and planning policy, Cllr Ann Davies said:
“I am very pleased with the Audit Wales report which states that Carmarthenshire County Council has succeeded in overcoming challenges within our planning department.
“The report is excellent, it praises the work and the change in systems, procedures and leadership, recognising the significant improvement that has been achieved.
“The issues in question were not due to a lack of work ethic, as I know first-hand of the effort and commitment that is put in by a number of our officers. It was rather the processes which were to blame and needed to be adjusted, as it did not provide officers with the appropriate environment to carry out the work required.
“I would like to thank all council officers that have worked so hard since the Spring of 2021 to achieve the goal of meeting all 17 of the recommendations that were initially set out by Audit Wales.
“The next step, of course, is to keep going, keep moving forward to stay at the forefront as one of the most productive planning authorities in Wales. There is further work to be done and we are committed to continuous improvement, especially in the world of enforcement but we are moving in the right direction with over 1000 enforcement cases having already been resolved in the last year.”
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