Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

A Busy Barberry Winter…

An update is long overdue but I am finally managing to sit down and write this blog for the Barberry Carpet Moth!

We have reached the end of our winter planting for Year 2 of the project. Our growers were able to offer us more plants than we were expecting this year, and what with a few extra plants grown on by volunteers too, we ended up planting 957 plants this winter. It was slightly challenging finding enough planting locations but we finally managed it, thanks to lots of interested and supportive landowners!
We have planted on 52 different sites as well, so we are starting to get a good spread of new plantings around the project areas. Often we have provided 50 plants at a time for large areas, and sometimes just 3 for people’s gardens. I have had 9 volunteer work parties and the pleasure of working with a number of different volunteers and organisations on the project.
A huge thank you should go to the Forestry Commission and Dorset County Council for their support in the Dorset Project area. In Wiltshire we have had lots of support from the National Trust, the Woodland Trust and the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. In fact WWT have had two Barberry planting events of their own with their volunteers!


Figure 1 - planting with the Woodland Trust in Wiltshire


Figure 2 - planting at an old landfill site in Dorset


Figure 3 - planting in a newly created Barberry glade with the Forestry Commission and volunteers

In addition to planting all these new plants, we have had a lot of interest from volunteers keen to have a go at growing Barberry on from seed. I’ve sent over 1,250 Barberries out to various volunteers, collected from Oxfordshire, Dorset and Gloucestershire. Growing Barberry is notoriously tricky, and often the berries collected have no viable seed inside, so it will be interesting to see how many plants germinate from these seeds. Young plants also make a tasty snack for various critters such as the Barberry Sawfly, and then there’s the problem of plants being very susceptible to mildew if they don’t have enough air circulation around them!

As you can imagine, my own garden is full of pots and trays of Barberry! The issue I had last summer was that in the drought, the garden was parched but I kept on watering my pots. This meant that the birds were always foraging as the soil was more damp, but they were inadvertently uprooting young seedlings all the time. It’s a wonder any of my plants survived this treatment but most of the plants that I grew last year appear to have made it through the winter safely, and now have fresh new leaves appearing on them.

We have 19 volunteer growers this year now, one of which is the Bredon Hill Academy in Worcestershire. They got in touch wanting to have a go at growing from seed and are going to have each of their 18 different form groups responsible for a few plants each. They have lots of space to grow plants and tonnes of enthusiasm, so we can continue to send berries. They will get to keep some plants for their garden and we can collect the rest for the project!

I’m lining up some new planting locations now for next year and have no doubt we will continue to find lots of interested landowners in our project areas, plus good potential sites for the moth. I’m looking forward to some survey events this summer, which will be advertised. Most of all I’m hoping that we have kinder weather this summer for all our new plants, and indeed for all wildlife.

 

Fiona Haynes

Barberry Carpet Moth project officer

 

 

Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:

  • Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
  • Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
  • Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.

 

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