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Local wildflowers shine through drought

Recent drought conditions have given local wildflowers a chance to shine, initiating a potential change in the management of some Armidale region parks.

A combination of less frequent mowing at parks in Armidale, as a result of prolonged dry conditions, and rain in January have enabled bluebells, pea flowers and other wildflowers to establish themselves.

“These native wildflowers and grasses have been a rare sight at the city’s parks for decades because these spaces have previously been mown regularly,” Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said.

Last year’s prolonged dry period meant mowing by Council crews at the region’s parks was largely put on hold.

While the region is yet to receive sufficient rain to end the drought, welcome falls in January have brought local parks back to life. Council’s Parks team is now working to overcome a backlog of mowing throughout the region, prioritising areas of fast growing introduced grasses and giving wildflowers at some parks a further opportunity to reveal themselves.

“It’s a rare opportunity to identify all the wildflowers and other plants that are making a comeback,” Councillor Murray said.

“It’s possible there are wildflowers such as lilies and even native orchids that might return from dormancy without regular intervention.

“We’re looking at changing our management of suitable parks, to rest these areas and promote natural regeneration. If they appear to be self sustaining, it provides a great opportunity to showcase our often overlooked grasslands.”

Patches of Drummond Park, below the Apex lookout, a section of the creeklands near Centennial Avenue and a section of the north facing slope within the Arboretum are being set aside and will not be mown for the remainder of the season.

He said conserving these wildflower meadows would improve urban biodiversity, providing resources for insects, birds and other animals, and bringing a spectacular show.

 “One of these areas will complement the stunning showcase plantings along Dumaresq Creek established by the Armidale Urban Rivercare Group,” Cr Murray said.

For further information, contact Council’s Coordinator - Public and Town spaces, Richard Morsley.

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