Sunday 7 June 2015

The meadow in the city

Chris Durdin, NWT Thorpe Marshes

Bee orchid at Big Yellow Storage, photo by Chris Durdin
Helder de Sousa is, perhaps, an unlikely conservation hero. He works at the Big Yellow Self Storage company on Canary Way in Norwich, opposite Norwich City Football Club. By chance he has become the custodian of a remarkable urban meadow, complete with bee orchids.

I must declare an interest. I first noticed bee orchids here in 2009, just before a man with a strimmer reached them. That year they were left uncut, marked with a stick but the grass cut round them.

From that small step forward, I’ve been encouraging the Big Yellow team to leave more and more grass uncut. This year it’s all been left and it’s created a wonderful meadow in the heart of Norwich.

Ox-eye daisies, photo by Chris Durdin
I counted 15 bee orchids here (on 5 June) and perhaps missed some, but the supporting cast is also strong. Sheets of ox-eye daisies dominate, there is ragged robin in the corner facing Morrison’s supermarket and today a Common Blue butterfly caught my eye. There are meadow ants, bees and often birds forage in the long grass.

Do pop along, perhaps when you’re shopping in Norwich. And please call in and say “well done” to Helder and his colleagues – it deserves encouragement.


Chris Durdin leads monthly wildlife walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Details of monthly walks on

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