Promoting Good Practice: Investment in Celtic Wildflowers

Promoting Good Practice: Investment in Celtic Wildflowers

BSG Ecology has recently made a substantial donation to South Wales based Celtic Wildflowers to help them in the next phase of their growth.

Celtic Wildflowers was established in 2018 by Barry Stewart, a well-known and highly respected freelance ecologist, and his wife Sandra, who also runs a successful ecotourism company.

They set up the business to address demand for locally sourced devil’s-bit scabious (the food plant of the protected marsh fritillary butterfly), in response to a series of habitat restoration projects which were failing to source sufficient quantities of plants of local provenance.  Obtaining permissions to collect seed from sites across in South Wales, where the plant was abundant, proved to be the first step in establishing the company.  The decision was quickly made to include other plant species to help support the adult phase of the butterfly, which enabled them to deliver a more complete package of marshy grassland species.

A little more than a year on, and Celtic Wildflowers’ stock list now extends to over 250 native vascular plants, and they are also growing large quantities of Sphagnum moss plugs to support peatland restoration projects.  Their customer base has grown quickly and includes local authorities, the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation and various developers. They are also providing voluntary support for a number of Natural Resources Wales’ conservation initiatives aimed at increasing the resilience of some of Wales’ most threatened plant populations through growing additional stock, and growing species of key importance for maintaining insect pollinator numbers. They have been invited by the National Botanic Garden of Wales to help deliver ‘Wellbeing Gardens’  featuring native wild flora for establishment at hospitals and local surgeries. Before BSG became involved, logistics (particularly growing space) were becoming an issue.

Polytunnel under construction, December 2019

Our donation has enabled Celtic Wildflowers to establish a very large new polytunnel in which they will grow much of the stock needed to service projects planned for 2020 and beyond.

BSG Ecology Director Owain Gabb said, “We are delighted to have contributed to the growth of a company that we see as playing a critical role in delivering the ecosystem resilience that the Environment Wales Act sets out to achieve, and which we as ecologists consider fundamentally important to our future wellbeing.”

Barry Stewart said, “It is encouraging that there has been so much interest and demand for restoration and enhancement of wildflower habitats in the region. The generous support provided by BSG will enable us to deliver genuine conservation gains at a far greater scale than we initially anticipated, and we look forward to reporting the outcomes from the projects that we’re involved with.”

Main photo: features Barry Stewart (left) of Celtic Wildflowers.

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