British wild flowers

Wildflower decline: Should we care less?

Many of our most loved British wild flowers are under threat due to modern farming practises (pesticides, fertiliser, hedgerow removal), housing development, poor management of our countryside and the explosion in decking, driveways and brick paving. So, should we care less?

This of course not only a sad time for flower lovers, but also for birds, insects and many other indigenous animals. I can’t help but feel that little is being done by the British public to curb this loss. As we (quite rightly) mourn the death of Woolworths, and feel that ‘more should have been done!’, why can’t we use that same passion of preservation to protect the fauna and flora that has been here since the end of the last ice age?

We have lost nationally, fewer than 20 species of wildflower in the last century, and hundreds more if you look at it on a county by county scale.

What can we do to encourage wild flowers into our garden?

The answer to that is quite simple – plant and encourage wildflower nd wildlife back into your own garden. If every garden in the UK set aside a small patch for wildflowers, then this man-made problem would be cranked into reverse. Wildflowers need very little supervision and therefore if you do lead a busy lifestyle – you don’t have to sacrifice a lot of time looking after them. Most species prefer poor soil and will happily grow amongst long grass (no weeding require!) and some if difficult, shady areas. Yellow Rattle or Cockscomb (Rhinanthus minor) will actually parasitically prevent grass from taking over as well as producing an interesting display in your garden.

Do be careful when buying ‘wildflower’ seed mixes from some stockists. Some will contain international species, usually American. I’d recommend you either look out for ‘British wildflower’ mixes or purchase a book and study the various species that can be found in and around the UK. This can be quite addictive.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.