Heritage Website – Biodiversity

The extensive grounds surrounding St Mary's Church provide an ideal environment in which to study and encourage the plants and creatures which find a home here. St Mary's hosted an important art exhibition and activities on the churchyard environment during the Adur Festival in June 2010.

Celebrating Biodiversity

The title 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' reflected the United Nations designation of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, which refers to the amazing richness and variety of wildlife and habitats on earth and our duty to conserve them.

St Mary's churchyard became a focus for both study (with a children's wildlife trail and long grass conservation area) and enjoyment (from Teresa Martin's outdoor sculptures), while the Adur artists provided their own interpretations of the theme around the walls and pillars inside the church. This exhibition was, in fact, a 'taster' for the wider Adur Art Trail around the whole district and encouraged visitors to carry on to the artists other venues where more work was on show during the Festival.

'Adopt a Grave'

Other aspects of St Mary's churchyard celebration came to fruition during the Festival fortnight – the 'Adopt a Grave' scheme proved very popular and many of the Victorian graves became colourful flower gardens once more.

The 'Flowery Mead'

The area to the east of the church was identified as being ideal for creating a long grass conservation garden. The Adur District Council team who look after the churchyard agreed to create a path but not cut the grass in this area for the summer season.

This was explained to visitors on the following notice:

'This area of the churchyard will not be mowed this summer so that the natural grasses and flowers can flourish and butterflies, bees and other insects can feed and shelter here. The title 'Flowery Mead' is a medieval one, used for rich meadows sown with a variety of flowers, and is therefore very appropriate in this ancient churchyard which dates from the twelfth century. Please help us by not walking across this area.'

A large number of old grass varieties emerged, along with quantities of buttercups, daisies, clover, and other meadow plants. "Traditional hay meadows like this one used to be the mainstay of rural Britain", reports a BBC News article, 'Conservationists warn of hay meadow decline', published at the time the St Mary's 'Flowery Mead' was established. "But these pretty meadows have all but vanished from the face of the countryside... the loss is having a worrying impact on biodiversity."

Butterfly and Bee Flowerbed

The flower bed near the War Memorial entrance to the churchyard also became a blaze of colour as the seeds we planted in the spring responded to the sunshine and attracted many bees and butterflies, much to the delight of passers by.

Butterfly and Bee Flowerbed

Encouraging Wildlife

Further additions to the area were squirrel and bird feeders, nesting boxes and 'bee logs', and a wood pile for insects.

Red Admiral butterfly in churchyard

Squirrel on feeder in churchyard

2010 International Year of Biodiversity

'Adopt a Grave' garden

A grave garden

Meadow path

A path through the 'Flowery Mead' in June

Buttercups, Daisies and Medick

Buttercups, Daisies and Medick in flower

Wide variety of grasses

A wide variety of grasses appear

Butterfly and Bee Flowerbed

Butterfly and Bee Flowerbed – a burst of colour in June