06 April 2012
Meandering through a wildflower meadow is one of the true joys of spring and summer. Bursting with native plantlife, it’s not just the colour of flowers like poppies and orchids there to enjoy, but the humming of bees and flicker of butterflies attracted by the nectar they offer.
Whilst the beauty of wildflower meadows is something to cherish, it’s also important to remember their immense value for insects and other creatures, along with nationally scarce and declining plant species. The precise habitat requirements for many of these specialist flowers are often found nowhere else. Sadly, due to factors like changes in land use and farming techniques, it’s estimated that less than 5% of this habitat is left in the UK. Many of those fragmented areas are being managed by The Wildlife Trusts as nature reserves. Techniques used to promote growth include conservation grazing, which helps spread wildflower seeds without destroying the delicate plants, along with scrub clearance by staff and volunteers.
The Wildlife Trusts have created a downloadable guide to our wildflower meadows, for those who wish to experience these magical places. There are some breath-taking sights on offer, such as blooming snakes-head fritillaries which come into their own in April. This stunning wildflower has a chequerboard pattern on its delicate petals. Iffley Meadows has been carefully managed by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust to make the conditions right for the rare beauty. Numbers have now increased from around 500 to 38,000 at the reserve.
Join The Wildlife Trusts for a celebration of ‘Our Meadow’ wildlife on 16 and 17 June, with individual Wildlife Trusts around the UK holding events. In the meantime though, you might wish to create your own wildflower meadow in your garden to help the bees and the butterflies and then enter the Big Wildlife Garden competition.
Post by Tanya Perdikou, The Wildlife Trusts.
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