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February 19th, 2018.

Newhaven-based civil engineering company Burleys has planted 1,000 wildflowers at Newhaven Cemetery as part of its plan to introduce more wildlife onto the site.

The blooms – all cowslips, a cousin of the primrose – are early spring flowers closely associated with English folklore and tradition.

Formerly a common plant found in meadows, ancient woodlands and hedgerows, the cowslip was picked in profusion across the country for many celebrations, used for Mayday garlands and strewn on church paths during wedding ceremonies. However, the impact of modern agricultural techniques has caused a serious decline in cowslip populations, and now fields coloured bright yellow with their nodding heads are a rare sight.

This latest project, commissioned by Newhaven Town Council, is one of many wildflower and bulb plantings carried out by Burleys across the Lewes area to help improve biodiversity and encourage wildlife.

The planted section has been rabbit fenced to protect the flowers from unwanted attention.

Churchyards play an important role in encouraging wildlife and pollinating insects. The fact that trees tend to be positioned around the edge of Churchyards helps provide sunlight for wildflowers and lichens, and planting groups of native shrubs in corners creates havens for insects and birds.

Hawthorn, blackthorn, goat sallow and dog rose are particularly important in providing homes for around 600 insects, including many moths. Leaving areas of the churchyard uncut during spring and summer also ensures the wildflowers thrive.