A border by any other name

A historic roadside border has a new lease of life thanks to the dedication of a hard-working team of volunteers

A 100 year-old herbaceous border in Southport has been revived as a sweet smelling haven for bees, as well as a spectacle for visitors, despite its slightly ill-fitting name. Volunteers have worked hard on the restoration of the Rotten Row borders since 2011, energising them with colour, perfume and interest throughout the year, culminating in the summer for Southport Flower Show.

'As well as wowing pedestrians and people in cars, we wanted to invite all the insects, birds and other wildlife to build up an ecologically-sound environment,' explained Brian Quinn, one of the many volunteers who has kept the borders blooming, along with the support of Sefton Council. 'We thought this would allow groups of schoolchildren to investigate life in the border for their science projects.'

The restoration project was originally set up by Birkdale Civic Society and Sefton Council, but following budget cuts, the volunteer-led Friends of Rotten Row was formed, an It’s Your Neighbourhood group and the recipient of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

‘Probably the best long border in the UK’

Not just for people


Bird boxes sit among the trees and bug hotels nestle within the half-mile long nectar-rich border that lines the road, while a large, handmade bee hotel serves as a sign for the attraction.

The borders are full of insect-attracting flowers, such as nepeta, phlox, single dahlias, single roses, foxgloves, spring bulbs and rudbeckias, with bees flocking to the borders throughout spring, summer and autumn. A designated wild zone, ‘the copse’, even permits the odd visiting rabbit.

A string of accolades and awards, including from Britain in Bloom, gives Rotten Row cause to claim itself as ‘probably the best long border in the UK’. It seems the bees agree.


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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.