Nottinghamshire’s county wildflower returns to the Castle after 200 years

Nottingham Catchfly plants have been replanted at Nottingham Castle after a nearly two-hundred-year absence, thanks to a year-long volunteer led project. NTU student Rebecca Bussey writes about the long-lasting impacts the project will have on Nottingham’s wildlife.

The Nottingham Catchfly may look small and delicate, but it thrives in the most rugged of conditions. It has survived times of adversity, so what better plant to bring us together in these challenging times?

The Nottingham Catchfly project has brought people together for environmental good. The Castle adopted a green approach from the very beginning:

  • The seeds were obtained by local wildflower seed provider Naturescape.
  • Print4, a local company who use vegetable ink in their printing, provided the packaging, complete with a simple design that enabled postage with little to no waste.
  • Volunteers were given peat-free pellets to start the growing and the Castle encouraged the use of peat-free compost throughout the project. Gardens release millions of tonnes of CO2 every year because of the demand for rich compost, so the Castle wanted to showcase and encourage alternatives.
  • Mansfield Sand kindly donated and delivered 300kg of soil – providing Nottingham Catchfly with the perfect settling conditions. Thank you to Nottingham Trent University Horticultural students for researching the best growing conditions and suggesting them in the first place.

Now that the Nottingham Catchfly is back at the Castle, we can’t wait to see how the wildlife benefits.

Image of Catchfly by Di Davis

Nottingham Catchfly is known for attracting a variety of moth species including Tawny Shears, Hadena, Perplexa, Notuidae, Hadeninae and White Spot. Since the 1950s the population of moths has been declining, with at least ten species going completely extinct in that time. Hopefully, with Nottingham Catchfly now onsite, it won’t be long until we see the benefits.

Nottingham Catchfly will create a safe habitat for moths and encourage more wildlife to the castle grounds, such as birds, bats, and toads. By returning Nottingham Catchfly to the Castle grounds, we have provided a much-needed home for our wildlife.

Who knows what will come next for the Nottingham Catchfly project? Only time will tell. Until then, here are some final thoughts from our volunteer Jann:

“The plant is resilient and likes tough conditions, so I planted them in a mixture of sand and gravel, and they all survived. I’ve lost so many plants over the winter, so I’m amazed how the Catchfly has coped. Gardeners are natural optimists, always looking forward. I’m looking forward to seeing the Catchfly settle at Nottingham Castle. It will add to the transformation of the Castle and it’s exciting to see them grow and flower’.

Rebecca Bussey is a student on the MA in Museum and Heritage Studies course at Nottingham Trent University.