Tower Hill Cemetery Wildflower Bank Restoration Project

Witney Town Council is working with the Rotary Club of Witney to rejuvenate the wild bank behind the chapel in Tower Hill Cemetery.

Steep banks that slope, as this one does, pose particular challenges. Routine maintenance such as mowing cannot be carried out with conventional mowers and watering is a problem due to run off. The trees that line the path above the bank shade the area and drop leaves onto the bank.

Carefully selected planting, suitable for the light and soil conditions will improve the appearance of this particular area and once established, create a more attractive and easily managed space. Wildflowers grow best in low quality soil, so it’s likely that the top layer of four inches or so will be removed to reach poorer soil and remove some of the grass roots to prevent new flowers from having to compete.

Thanks to around £600, donated by Rotary Club of Witney, the Town Council has been able to purchase wildflowers in different planting media to trial on three test areas.

One area will have seeds, another some seed matting and the final area will be planted with seed plugs. The intention is to complete the work for early spring planting and flowering in summer 2023. Wildflower plantings usually take a number of years to establish properly, but the hope is that ultimately the bank will be beautifully transformed by this restoration plan.

John Summers of the Rotary Club said,

“The Rotary Club of Witney is pleased to be able to provide funds so that this project to take place, in partnership with Witney Town Council, because of the Club’s focus on the enhancement of the community and the local environment. This project is centrally located in town where the site is in need of some improvement. The steep grassy bank is difficult to maintain and appropriate wildflower meadow planting is intended to provide year-round interest and summer colour.”

Work has already begun with five members of the Rotary Club assisting on site, transplanting existing spring bulbs and perennials from the trial area, so that they will not be lost when the ground is prepared for planting the wildflowers.

The welcome offer of help from The Witney Rotary club comes from a new area of involvement for them – Environment and Community- which focuses on “supporting families and working with local government to improve where we live.”

This is the first stage of the project. The Club says it looks forward to assisting in the next stages, and is pleased to be associated with this community and environment project. The Club President, Ron Spurs, explained, “This project is exactly the type of community action that our Club thrives on”.

Cllr Ruth Smith, Chair of the Climate, Biodiversity and Planning Committee, added,

“Wild flowers cheer everyone up and this project will build more insect food and habitats into the well-loved cemetery,  which has had several successful nature enhancements in recent years. Our officers and in-house maintenance team have more expertise and flexibility than ever to respond to residents’ requests for nature-friendly management of our green spaces.”

This exciting joint project fulfils the Town Council’s desire for community engagement and partnership working and also addresses aims stated in its recently adopted Open Spaces strategy to improve biodiversity and habitat management.

The Rotary club has invited the Witney Photo Group to document the project as it unfolds.

Gardeners with spades on grass

Volunteers from Rotary transplanting Primroses from the test areas