Last year, the Exeter Wild City initiative, a scheme led Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter City Council, planted more than three hectares of new wildflower meadow across the city. Funded by The Big Lottery Fund and Devon Doctors with the support of volunteers of local residents and school pupils, the hard work is being rewarded as the beautiful flowers begin to bloom.

The environmental charities aim was not just to create colourful summer flower displays but encourage Exeter’s wildlife including pollinating inserts, mini beasts and birds. Planting involved a wildflower seed mix of cornflower, poppy, corn chamomile and corn cockle in some of the city’s most popular green spaces including Bull Meadow, Rougemont Gardens, St Thomas Pleasure Grounds and Northernhay Gardens.

Galvin Short from Exeter City Council, said: “Biodiversity and sustainability are relatively new ‘buzz words’ but in partnership with Devon Wildlife Trust we have been chipping away at bland evergreen landscapes for over ten years. “Most of our principal parks now have a wild corner which we leave for the mini beasts and nesting birds and our larger sites have significant areas that are maintained as wildflower meadows or as a developing wildlife habitat.”

Wild flowers like this one have evolved alongside insects and provide them with just what they need

Emily Stallworthy of Devon Wildlife Trust added: “Cities such as Exeter are essential places for wildlife such as bumblebees, butterflies and birds. People’s gardens and city parks provide a huge variety of flowering plants that help to feed pollinating insects. “These insects then go on to do a very important job in feeding us by pollinating our orchards and crops.”

This stunning rose is of little or no use to pollinating insects – they can’t physically reach the pollen and nectar

Many traditionally popular garden flowers such as petunias and begonias produce little or no nectar for insects making it appealing to popularise wildflower meadow planting in domestic gardens as well as larger public spaces. It couldn’t be easier for the budding wildlife gardener to join in and if you’d like a wildflower meadow of your own, watch our video and find out how to do it for yourself.

Planting for pollinators: a short video with garden ideas that will benefit bees and butterflies