Breath-taking Beauty: The Wildlife Trusts’ Wildflower Meadows

26 September 2012

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Wild flower meadow, Sheffield. Photography by Paul Hobson. Copyright © The Wildlife Trusts.Wild flower meadow, Sheffield. Photography by Paul Hobson. Copyright © The Wildlife Trusts.

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.

Hebridean sheep carrying out conservation grazing. Photography by Tom Marshall. Copyright © The Wildlife Trusts.

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.

Wild flowers (including fritillaries) in Iffley Meadows. Photography by Peter Creed. Copyright © The Wildlife Trusts.

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.

Find out more about different types of UK meadow habitats, such as lowland and upland hay meadows, and spring/summer events on The Wildlife Trusts website.


Post by Tanya Perdikou, The Wildlife Trusts. This blog was originally posted in April, 2012 as part of our Gardens month


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