Last week we were lucky enough to run this activity in a wonderful wildflower meadow in the centre of Cardiff - the little patch off Park Place cared for by National Museum Wales. It was absolutely buzzing with life, and it was great to hear so much support for leaving space in the city for wildlife, as well as all the things visitors to our area are doing in their own gardens at home.
We are making wildflower pom poms as part of Cardiff Science Festival’s Sub Atomic Circus, and it’s a perfect time of year to talk about wild plants as now is meadow cutting season. Managing lawns and meadows for biodiversity is an art, as we’re learning here at Green Squirrel HQ, and we’re gradually cutting all the long grass and flowers that have appeared throughout the spring and summer thanks to our no-mow approach.
However – when road verges, parks, and other patches of grass are cut throughout the spring and summer for ‘neatness’, biodiversity suffers – not just plants but the wildlife that depend on them too.
For this activity we’re going to make some pom pom wildflowers to represent some of the 700 species of wild plant that can thrive on a single road verge. You will need:
- Some yarn – we like to buy bags of remnants or preloved yarn from charity shops or ebay.
- A piece of strong cardboard – part of a brown packing box is perfect.
- A sharp pair of scissors.
- A thin stick
- Some tape – masking tape works great
- Some green scrap paper and glue
- Optional: some green florist’s tape
A quick note on sustainable crafting
The most commonly used yarn for pom pom making and children’s crafts is acrylic yarn. As the name suggests, this is a synthetic material made from crude oil. It’s a very soft and very hard wearing yarn but it does use a great deal of energy and fossil fuels to produce, and it sheds plastic microfibres when worn or washed.
For this reason we always try to use up yarn leftovers and unwanted yarn, and we are carefully about using it. For example, when trimming your pom poms you’ll notice that a lot of fluff is produced – we recommend catching your trimmings carefully in a bag or tub and disposing of them in the bin. We’d also recommend using a Guppy Friend or Cora Ball to wash any synthetic textiles in your washing machine.
Because it’s so hardwearing, acrylic yarn is very popular for craftivism projects such as yarn bombing. Although these colourful creations can be good at grabbing attention, leaving synthetic yarn out in the elements causes a lots of plastic fibre shedding, with microplastics then entering the soil and water.
Step 1: Make your pom pom
There are loads of ways to make a pom pom but this is our favourite because it’s quick and easy. Here’s a little video tutorial.
When trimming your pom pom try and leave a couple of longer threads – you’ll need those in a moment.
Step 2: Fix it to the stem
Take your stick and push it firmly into the middle of your pom pom, but try not to let it stick out the top.
Wrap the long threads around the stick and secure them with masking tape so the pom pom stays firmly in place.
If you’ve got some florist’s tape then you can carefully wrap it around the stem to make everything look tidy.
Step 3: Add a leaf
Fold your green paper in half and draw on a leaf, with the base of the leaf along the fold.
Cut it out, fold your leaf around the stem and glue the two sides together.
At this point you could decide which wild plant your pom pom represents, and write the name of it on the leaf to help you remember that plant in future. Here’s a list of some common and lovely wildflowers to get you started.
We’d love to know if you decide to give this activity a try – comment below or tag us on social @bemoresquirrel. If you’d like to receive all our summer resources in your inbox each week then you can sign up here.
Would you like us to come and run an eco make and do activity with your group? Alternatively we can provide your team with training – online or in person – to run your own activities. Get in touch using the form below.