Following on from my community workshops and Council staff training in late 2019 for Cavan County Council I’m pleased to be working on Cavan County Council’s Pollinator Guidelines. This has been awarded through Cavan’s Heritage Office. Covid19 got in the way but the draft guidelines are winging their way through for comments.
My horticultural experience over the years and seeing what other Councils have done, spending time in Cavan and with community groups has really helped me put together this rewarding document. Looking forward to receiving feedback.
Earlier in 2021, I was approached be Takeda Pharmaceuticals Ltd, (Bray Office). They had recently signed up as business supported of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP).
Initially, I took part in their week long staff programme of half hour talks @Lunch & Learn focusing on biodiversity, Climate Change and other environmental issues. During lunch, a group of 30 or so staff members joined me (through Teams) to hear more about the AIPP and what individuals can do to help our wild pollinators.
Sebastian, Takeda’s Sustainability Lead, contacted me again in September to get more help. As a business supporter of the AIPP, businesses are obliged to put in place various pollinator friendly measures. Takeda’s office in Bray has some good ground, grass areas and shrub/trees areas.
After a site visit, I was able to recommend a number of measures including the six week mow regime along with the planting of 1,000 mixed crocus bulbs! Crocus are ideal in these situations and very pollinator friendly and work well in the six week mow regime, where grass is cut every six weeks allowing dandelions, clover and other flowers to flourish.
I look forward to developing this B2B partnership as there are more opportunities for sensitive planting in urban and sub-urban areas for pollinators and providing colour and interest for staff.
In 2019, I was so pleased to be recommended by Sarah Malone, Leitrim’s Heritage Officer to her fellow heritage officer next door in Cavan, Anne Marie Curley. After completing a pollinator friendly training programme in Leitrim, Anne Marie invited me to quote for a similar community training project focusing on the All Ireland Pollinator Plan.
I’m currently working again (Autumn 2021) with Anne Marie, training groups in the Geopark area of Cavan. Not only am I raising awareness of the AIPP, but I’m getting down to the nitty gritty of how people can plan their areas be it community spaces or garden for planting. Using the right colours, using native species in the rural areas, using perennials, trees and shrubs to provide all year round colour for the community and at the same time valuable food sources for our wild pollinators is very much the order of the day.
After the success of the engagement with Kilcommon School, the next steps was obvious. It all boiled down to timing. LEADER’s put out a call for interested parties to develop projects around and focusing on our freshwater resources.
The Derry-Rosnastraw-Coolboy sub catchment was also targeted for action under the current River Basement Management plans. Tinahely Community Projects seeked out suitable people to run a river / catchment project. I was very pleased to be awarded the tender. Tinahely Community Projects successfully secured the LEADER funds through Wicklow Partnership Company.
The Bubbles are heading to five local national schools.
The five schools, being Crossbridge National School, Tinahely National School, St. Mary’s NS in Coolafancy, and then in Shillelagh, School No. 1 NS and Scoil Mhuire na nAird. Its going to be a busy year for myself and Maeve Hunter as she has agreed to join me for this successful, outreach, catchment focused project.
Kiltegan is a small village in West Wicklow with a big heart. Its Tidy Towns committee approached me to help them develop a new 3 year plan. This plan would also have a goal that in 2023 they would regain their standing in the national competition by winning the overall competition in their category, thus the reference to -5year. In 1973 they were the winners!
With great stone buildings, including Homewood estate, old cemeteries, mountains on their doorsteps and the River Douglas flown nearby, topped up with a huge community spirit they had everything they needed.
Their 3 (-5) plan is ambitious but doable. Following several meetings and walkabouts I drew up some strong and very pro-active measures in each category and adding onto their existing activities.
In February 2019, I urged them to open the door to a public consultation and one Wednesday evening the Community Hall had many new and known faces attend. I facilitated the meeting, outlining what Kiltergan Tidy Towns were planning. It was great to see two councillors attend, one from Wicklow and one from Carlow. Kiltegan has the benefit of being on the border and can possibly dip into each to help with the various projects and actions identified.
Branding and logos! I sometimes wonder why I choose my business name ‘Rubalcava Heritage Services’ as it does not exactly roll off the tongue. I was previously self employed as a wedding florist and managed to build up a very good reputation providing a quality and creative service in a demanding sector, the wedding sector. Thus using my surname ‘Rubalcava’ seemed to make sense. And having Mexican heritage in my background, I’m proud to use what that culture gives to me.
Why Heritage? Under Ireland’s Heritage Act 1995, Nature or Biodiversity is part of what is heritage. I grew up surrounded by trees, wildlife and wildflowers. My love and appreciation of our natural world has now very much become a need in me to protect it as much as I can and hopefully where possible install an awareness and appreciation into others.
This leads me onto services – simply, I hope, and plan to serve Nature. Services – raise awareness of Nature.
Once again, I very pleased to announce that Wicklow County Council have given me 2 LA21 grants to do 2 projects in the Wicklow area. One is my successful ‘Gardening for Biodiversity’ series of classes. I will be doing 2 separate lots, one in the Rathdrum area and other in the Carnew area.
My second grant is for my relatively new project, the River Derry Bubbles Project. I’ll be working in partnership with Maeve Hunter, outreach artist. We’ll be working closely with Kilcommon National School, here in Tinahely. Tinahely Community Projects has also provided me with some financial support.
The participants of my Baltinglass ‘Gardening for Biodiversity’ classes decided to join forces on Earth Day, April 22nd and plant for the local bees and butterflies. All around the country positive action of pollinators are happening and this one will add to the network.
A choice of perennial herbaceous plants, herbs and a few ground cover shrubs were chosen based on the flowering season, and colours bees and butterflies like. Lavender, sedum, aubrietia, ceanothus, salvia to name a few. Blues, whites, yellows and mauve pinks won the day!
What was particularly nice about this end result was it wasn’t just members of the Stratford community. Joining us on the day were a couple from nearby Donard, a lady from Baltinglass and some kids. And the few plants that were surplus went to Donard to help the pollinators in that area. Communities doing their bit for pollinators and biodiversity!
So glad to be continuing this successful project with the help of Wexford County Council’s Local Agenda 21 grant and the support of Raheen Family Resource Centre.
At a time when gardeners and community groups are gearing up for another year of planting, weeding and composting, I hope to add a few layers of advice and guidance to their gardening ways. I’m repeating the same topics covering Trees for Wildlife (this one took place during National Tree Week), Gardening for Pollinators, Creating and Managing Wildflower Meadows, Gardening and Water Conservation. And the final one Peat free gardening.
At the same time I see the All Ireland Pollinator Strategy has added another wonderful addition to this national initiative – Actions for Pollinators – a way to map positive actions for our much needed pollinators. I’ll be pleased I can add a red dot to Raheen!
Wildlife Gardening Forum based in the UK are holding a conference this November (www.wlgf.org). Through the Irish Wildlife Trust here in Ireland, I was asked if I’d be interested in sharing my thoughts and experiences from an Irish perspective!
Building on from my successful ‘Gardening for Biodiversity’ talks I’ll be sharing what I know about #peatfree gardening. Coming from Ireland, where our bogs are still being used to feed Irish, British and even European pots and gardens I’ll be focusing on ‘The Brown Stuff – Looking after our Roots’. Dipping into what Ireland’s horticultural sector has to offer the gardener, or even better looking at what the gardener can do in their own garden to reduce the over dependency on our peatlands.
Looking forward to hearing other European perspectives on Wildlife Gardening or Nature Gardening. Get out there and start your leaf mould!!