Wanstead Grow Zones
Big thanks to Stow Brothers and The Duke for helping us buy wildflower seeds
Meadows can support eight times more biodiversity than regularly mown grass. That’s why Wild Wanstead, Redbridge Council and Vision RCL have been working together to create a network of Grow Zones across Wanstead, where the grass will be left to grow long over summer to naturalise with wildflowers.
Last year there were a number of sites in the project, which highlighted the fantastic array of plants that will grow when grassy areas are left to get a bit wilder. You might have noticed the back part of George Green looking shaggier and more beautiful than usual. A floral survey by local botanists revealed more than 80 plant species at the site, as well as insects that thrive in long grass habitats like the Essex Skipper Butterfly. In July 2021, a survey of two Grow Zone verges found around 90 different species of plant and a range of insects including bees, hoverflies, grasshoppers, spiders and damselflies. This research demonstrates the incredible value of the Grow Zones for biodiversity. Download the lists of plants found here: Nelson and Rodney Road verge; Hermon Hill verge.
The Grow Zones initiative is now been expanded across Redbridge, and floral diversity at some of the sites is being increased with wildflower planting. Other local organisations have also set up Grow Zones on their land.
2021 Grow Zones
Christ Church Green
Three Grow Zones on the Wanstead Place side of the park plus a small triangle near the High Street
Back quarter of the park plus a number of areas under the trees
Nutter Lane Field
Two strips along the back edges
Elmcroft Avenue Recreational Ground
Large Grow Zones on either side of the footpath
Wanstead Place verge
Nelson Road / Rodney Road verge
Hermon Hill verge (by junction with Cranbourne Ave)
Overton Drive verge
The Drive section of verge near the bus stop opposite the Toby Carvery
Make your own Grow Zone
Let an area of lawn grow long over summer. Mow it once in autumn then remove and compost the grass cuttings – over a few years this will deplete the nutrients in the area and help wildflowers to naturalise
Turn an area of lawn into a mini meadow. There are a few ways you could do this. Cut once a year as above.
1) Lift an area of grass and replace it with a ready made wildflower turf – immediate results, but more expensive than other options
2) Buy a tray of wildflower plug plants (little seedlings) and plant them in your lawn in spring or autumn – great way to get flowers established, moderately expensive
3) Lift areas of turf, loosen the earth and sprinkle wildflower seed mix onto the soil. Seed is cheap to buy and if you pick an annuals mix it should flower well this summer.
Plant a wildflower bed – just loosen the soil and plant the seeds. Annual mixes usually take a couple of months to grow. At the end of summer cut the vegetation back and re-seed ready for the following year.
Plant wildflower containers – perfect for greening up driveways, patios, balconies or window boxes. Just plant with an annuals mix as above. Most wildflowers are tough but you’ll need to water them regularly in a pot.
Installing new signage for Grow Zone areas
St Mary's Avenue Grow Zone, summer 2019