Wildflower labyrinth will add to beauty and biodiversity at Abbey ruins

A wildflower labyrinth has been planted in the Abbey Gardens, in Bury St Edmunds, to attract bees, butterflies and encourage greater biodiversity.

The 36m diameter labyrinth, designed to celebrate 1000 years since the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund, has been planted on the site of the former tennis courts. It will mark the east end of the Abbey of St Edmund offering views of the Abbey Church and the rest of the Abbey Ruins all around. New tennis courts opened in another part of the Abbey Gardens on July 1.

The wildflowers planted in the spring, contain a mix of perennial herbaceous plants including Blackeyed Susan, Sea Holly, Yarrow and Yellow Ox Eye. They have been planted by West Suffolk Council as part of its work with the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership.

Next week, the council’s Cabinet is due to discuss a final report from its climate change and environment task force that has been looking at what the council can do, influence and lobby for to bring about environmental and biodiversity improvements and address climate change. A number of councillors have already backed community projects in their area to create better wildlife habitats.

John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “The Wildflower Labyrinth is just one of many examples of the work that we, in partnership with others in the community, can do and are delivering to improve local biodiversity. Once it is in bloom, this labyrinth will not only add to the beautiful colours of the Abbey Gardens, but attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators benefitting wildlife, and improve our environment. The former Abbey is of course an area where people can come to relax and reflect amid both the beauty of nature and the stonework of our history. The gardens, and other parks and open spaces we manage, are great places to visit, enjoy a walk and mentally recharge and I’m sure the wildflower labyrinth will add to that enjoyment.”

The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership support the project.

Rev Canon Matthew Vernon, chairman of the Partnership, said: “The wildflower labyrinth was planned as part of a wider celebration of the Abbey’s 1000 years much of which of course has had to be rescheduled due to Covid-19. But the labyrinth will still be something that people can come and safely enjoy as the flowers begin to show in the late summer.

“Labyrinths are a spiritual exercise encouraging reflection and contemplation. Part of many traditions, they are associated with pilgrimage, such as the medieval labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, in France.  Down the centuries, visitors came to the Abbey of St Edmund to be more aware of God.  The wildflower labyrinth continues that tradition on this sacred site.”

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