Since its inception in 2013, the Rotherham ‘River of Flowers’ has caused a stir. The pioneering initiative saw annual mixes sown along 8 miles of verges and roundabouts, brightening up the borough's roadsides. The Streetpride team commissioned the project with Pictorial Meadows the grassed central reservations into a sea of wildflowers.
At the time the council was spending around £80,000 on cutting the eight miles of grass, seven times a year, with outside contractors providing traffic management when the roads were closed to allow the work to take place. The maintenance was taken back inhouse, as the number of times the council would have to cut the reservations was reduced and so visibility for motorists was improved.
Streetpride Manager, Richard Jackson said "Pictorial Meadows seed mixtures are cleverly engineered so that different flowers and colours come through at different times of the year. The idea is that we get the first flush of colour in March, which are the reds and purples with the poppies and red orach.
“When those flowers die down the next flowers to appear are the blues, like the cornflowers, which then grow taller and hide the dying remains of the earlier species. Yellows and oranges like the Californian poppies and corn marigolds appear as we get into November.”
Rotherham Council have received a Green Apple award for Environmental Best Practice, as well as over 250 compliments for the scheme via phone, emails and letters from residents, visitors and even singer Toyah Willcox.
Cllr Gerald Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development in Rotherham, commented ‘It looked really fantastic last year with hundreds of compliments received from local residents and visitors as far afield as Scotland, Cornwall and even Australia’.
Rotherham Council chose Pictorial Meadows mixes since they include both native and selected non-native flower wildflowers, which provide an extended period of nectar, flowers and seeds that are food sources for many pollinating insects, birds and even some mammals.
Not only did the residents, commuters and wildlife benefit, the council also experienced significant cost savings (£25,000 per annum) on their on-going management expenses.
Three Scottish councils, plus councils in Hartlepool and Coventry initially contacted the Streetpride team about the project and have since been working with Pictorial Meadows to replicate it in their areas.
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