,

New meadow proposal at Cumbernauld Community Park

“People and wildlife at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future” is our vision at Cumbernauld Living Landscape, so it’s important that wherever possible improvements we make to the town’s habitats also provide opportunities for locals to connect with nature. This year we have some exciting plans for Cumbernauld Community Park, and we want you to be involved. In partnership with Friends of Cumbernauld Community Park, we’re holding two information sessions to gather thoughts and opinions on a proposed wildflower meadow and a meadow of unharvested oats. The wildflower meadow will not only bring colour to the park in summer, it will also become the latest addition to Cumbernauld’s “Nectar Network”, creating a new food supply for pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies and moths. Unharvested oats hark back to the area’s agricultural past, and while they may not be feeding us humans, they’ll provide a feast for farmland birds such as skylarks, fieldfares and redwings. The two meadows have the potential to create some fantastic wildlife-watching experiences. In previous consultations, over 40% of respondents wanted more things to do in the

,

Connect to the Nectar Network

Earlier this month the team had a brilliant time at St Maurice’s Pond, bug hunting and pond dipping with a group of pupils preparing to make the leap from primary to high school. We saw all sorts of wildlife, but it was the butterflies that stole the show. So once the kids had gone and everything was quiet once more, we decided to get down to some serious counting for Butterfly Conservation’s annual ‘Big Butterfly Count’. Walking through the tall grass and vibrant wildflowers that surround the pond, we soon realised that we were going to need a bigger recording sheet! This summer saw the largest number of painted lady butterflies migrate across Scotland in a decade, and Cumbernauld was no exception. We counted a phenomenal 71 of them, plus many other species including small tortoiseshell, large white and peacock. By allowing ourselves to slow down and take notice we also came across other surprises, like a hefty elephant hawk moth caterpillar and a stunning hawker dragonfly. The whole place was teeming with life. The kind of naturalised grassland found

,

Lazy Summer Days

“It’s too hot!”  – the plaintive cry of the average Scotsperson on the first warm day of summer. Never mind all the complaints of cold from the dreich weeks before! Trees have many vital roles, but one of the most important ones for me right now is their undoubted value as a sunshade. There can surely be few more pleasant places to spend the afternoon on a summer’s day than sat beneath the shade of a tall, spreading chestnut or oak. But while we’re all slathering on suncream and dreaming of winter, perhaps we should spare a thought for those creatures for whom the sun’s warmth is vital. The trees – hopefully – will be surrounded by wildflowers, and in amongst the colourful blooms a community of butterflies and bees will be hard at work.     Lazy summer days aren’t an option for your average bumblebee. They must make the most of every warm day, foraging for pollen and nectar to ensure the survival of the next generation. Bumblebees can only fly if their flight muscles are above 30°C, and

,

30 days of wild Cumbernauld

The Wildlife Trust runs an annual event over the month of June connecting people to nature every day under the name #30DaysWild. Tasks range from reading poetry in the garden to planting trees or flowers for pollinators. A massive number of organisations join us in connecting with and exploring nature. The Cumbernauld Living Landscape team thought we would add our own twist to an old favourite. In past years we have focused on wildlife, showing different species that you can easily find in your gardens, parks and woodlands. From tiny insect pollinators to deer grazing on the grasslands, there has always been something to see. This year we tried something different. Our new Creating Natural Connections project vision is “People and nature at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future”, and what better time to begin that ethos than during the #30DaysWild campaign.   We know that there are still a lot of people in the town who do not know of the beautiful sites that they can visit. This month we brought nature to you through events, both in and outdoors,

,

Why ‘messy’ wildflower meadows are great for wildlife

We often debate which cleaning product is better for keeping germs at bay, and how Feng the Shui of our homes should be. And sometimes our thoughts and wishes for everything to be clean and pristine are carried into the natural world. I’ve had countless discussions with people who think “it’s lovely to see the grass cut and neat” or “that lawn is pristine, it’s just like a golf course”. Sadly, while they are neat and tidy, they are also artificial and limited in animal and plant species. Wildflower meadows are sometimes undervalued because they look untidy compared to a formal flowerbed, but the amount of life they can sustain is incredible. A true meadow consists of native species with a mix of sizes and flowering times, and a large variety of grasses swaying in the wind as if they are being led by a maestro. Part of this is due to companies advertising non-native plants in a mass of floral beauty. This is an artificial situation. Many of these plants will only last one season as they are not

,

Wasps… what are they good for?

It’s that time of year again. You might be enjoying a picnic, eating your lunch in the town centre, or relaxing with a cup of tea in the garden. Before long you’ll catch sight of the dreaded black and yellow stripes of a wasp coming to see what you’re up to. A question we’re often asked at this time of year is just what are wasps good for? Wouldn’t the world be a better place without them? The answer to that is simple. No! There are actually thousands of different species of wasp in the UK. Some are tiny, most are solitary – and you probably don’t even notice them all around you.  Only a few species fit the usual description, large and social, living in colonies of thousands, controlled by a queen. These wasps live complex, fascinating lives in their intricately constructed paper nests. The common wasp, Vespula vulgaris, is a supreme predator hunting and eating many creatures we consider pests such as caterpillars, greenfly and flies- other species are important pollinators.  A world without wasps would have many

,

Help wildlife the easy way

It’s summer time and our streets are alive with the sound of lawnmowers. But if you have a garden consider taking a closer look at your patch of green before you mow. This year I decided to do just that and left my first cut a little late– and was thrilled to find my lawn full of spotted orchids! There’s something special about orchids. Their mysterious life cycle means it’s always a joy to spot a colony of them in the wild – never mind in the garden! They must have been lying dormant for years before just the right conditions – and the right lackadaisical gardener – came along and allowed them to flourish. Once I had found the orchids it was impossible to avoid looking further. I soon counted more than a dozen species of wildflower growing among the grass. From the humble but beautiful daisies, dandelions, clover and buttercups, to colourful mouse-ear hawkweed and delicate tufted vetch, eyebright, stitchwort, self heal and more. Once I’d spotted the flowers it became impossible to miss the pollinators. The grass

,

Take a closer look

The spate of heavenly weather we have been having makes getting out for a walk all the more pleasant. Feeling the sun warm on your face and enjoying the tiniest of breezes is pure heaven! On a recent walk I thought I would see how many wildflowers I could spot, to give me a feel for what creating more meadows through our new Cumbernauld Living Landscape initiative can do. I walked, I immediately started to spot the wildflowers growing in amongst the buttercups and grasses. As I listed off the number of wildflowers I could see, I was amazed to count at least 40 different species. But when I said to a fellow canine personal trainer “isn’t the meadow looking lovely?” the reply came in a questionable tone, “what the buttercups?” I spoke of all the different wildflowers I had come across and my dog walking compatriot thought I was nuts. Challenge accepted! I took her for a walk through the meadow and started to show her the different flowers – she was stunned, so I was happy! Because the