During last winter, one of the Bantry Tidy Towns committee members spent some time studying the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, talking to other Tidy Towns groups and speaking to growers and garden centres to get advice on various options for planting schemes for towns.
In the spring of 2021, Bantry Tidy Towns was introduced to the Cork County Council Bantry Pollinator Plan, which reinforced what the group had learned in the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.
The group is also very fortunate to have had a chance encounter with local Bantry man, Michael Butler, who has a background in horticulture. During the discussions, as Tidy Towns gave Michael a tour of their various planting areas, he made a very generous offer to co-ordinate all the planting for the group.
Michael took all the advice from the various pollinator plans and visited growers and garden centres on Tidy Town’s behalf to see what range and variety of flowers might be available in a very uncertain year for suppliers. He then sourced and collected a large variety of perennial and pollinator friendly plants and planted them out in various areas around town. A few of the Tidy Towns volunteers also added to the overall effort by planting out certain areas and beds too.
In relation to the 12 three-tier planters, many Tidy Towns volunteers were involved in the major undertaking of emptying the planters of clay, which had solidified over time and had caused water-logging which hindered successful growth.
The task involved some heavy lifting for many volunteers over a number of months. When the planters were emptied, they were then power-washed by volunteers before being refilled with compost by a number of other volunteers. Fertiliser was added before Michael Butler took on the task of planting them out. The planters hanging on railings near the Bank of Ireland and near Bantry Library got similar treatment and got all spruced up and planted out too.
The overall result is a planting scheme that follows the advice of the various pollinator plans. The emphasis is to achieve a few goals such as: the introduction of more perennial plants which will mean fewer plants have to be bought next year, which will also reduce the effort required for planting annuals; to dramatically increase the amount of pollinator friendly plants which means that Bantry Tidy Towns is doing their bit to assist pollinators in terms of what is planted; other items taken into consideration when choosing the appropriate plants were that they needed to be hardy to cope with the winds that Bantry receives in its coastal location; Michael Butler then added a few twists such as filling the planter at the Bantry Port Company with edible herbs such as mint, thyme, oregano and rosemary and another planter in lower square with wildflowers. These will be educational and are a practical example of different uses for public spaces.
Overall, it’s a three-year plan and this year the plants are in the development stage, but are already showing lots of colour and rapid growth. It is hoped that the planting will add greatly to the presentation of the town, provide variety and colour and be of benefit to all who work, live or visit Bantry.
Bantry Tidy Towns would like to acknowledge the assistance of Cork County Council, Bantry Port Company and La Crosse Bantry Friendship Association for supporting the effort. A big thank you was also extended to all the volunteers who have done so much work in preparation for the planting and for the continued work in maintaining and watering them.