How to make wildflowers part of your workplace

For the last two years, Associated British Ports has encouraged their teams at 22 sites across the UK, as well as an office in Covent Garden, to grow wildflowers and other plants. Each summer the work pays off, as patches burst into bloom, giving everyone a positive boost.

In Spring you can find big burly dockers having conversations about flower types, not something you’d expect to hear at a large port.

Sites like the one in Plymouth have little available space for planting, so the team has had to get creative,  for example by using old luggage carts to create planters.

Luggage cart filled with wildflowers next to a large blue road signAt other ports, dilapidated old rowing boats have been painted up, lined with plastic and filled with a mini-meadow of wildflowers using Grow Wild seeds. While in Wales and Hull they now have bee hives onsite, which is all the more reason for encouraging wildflowers to grow in and around the area.

At the London office there isn’t a lot of space, but there’s a lot of competitive spirit and this year ABP held a competition across the group to see who could grow the tallest sunflower in planters, with all ports and offices getting involved.

There were some truly remarkable results, including one man who got his to over three meters tall. “What’s your secret?” we asked. He leans forward and in a soft Welsh accent explains, “I talk to it in a loving way every morning.” According to his colleagues this is exactly right!

Man in hi vis on a ladder measuring a sunflower against a wall of corrugated ironAccording to the team at ABP, injecting a bit of competition is a great way to get different departments interested. And fundamentally it’s about encouraging staff to step outside for a few minutes each day: to improve their wellbeing through small actions that connect them to nature and each other.

There is no pressure to be involved, staff can get stuck in as much or as little as they feel able. For anyone that doesn’t want to get their hands dirty, they can still enjoy their colleagues’ handiwork.

What started small has grown across the company. People share ideas and suggestions on Yammer, the internal social network, they’ve organised other activities like litter picking or beach clean ups together.

Wildflowers have provided the catalyst for a workplace that takes wellbeing seriously.

If your workplace is up for the challenge, apply for a Grow Wild wildflower seed kit to sow and grow this Spring.

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