There are very few areas in Britain that still have traditional Wildflower meadows, many fields have been swallowed up for intensive food production, housing or industrial developments or treated to remove ‘weeds’ and maximize grass production for grazing. You often see wildflowers on the grass verges alongside our roads and motorways but unfortunately these are often cut by the local Council when they are in flower and before they have a chance to set seed, they are not in a safe place where you can enjoy, study and take photographs of them.
Create your own Wildflower meadow in your garden, school garden, on your balcony or within your community, there may even be a small area in your housing estate, park, sports field or care home that could be used (ask the landowners permission first).
Garden Soil is ideal for native Wildflowers, grow in an empty patch/border or for a natural feel you could rake an area of your lawn to remove the grass or cut out and remove the grass turfs completely to expose the soil, if you only have a balcony or back yard they can be grown in containers (with drainage holes) preferably in an open and sunny position. To protect Wild flowers growing in the countryside from cross-pollination with packet seeds, please make sure that you don’t sow seeds in or near open countryside or near nature reserves.
Choose a day when the ground is not too wet or dry, start by removing all of the weeds, from small ones to deep rooted perennial weeds, use a spade or fork to dig out any deep roots completely, weeds will compete with your wildflowers. Rake over the ground until its fine and crumbly, removing any large clumps or stones. Scatter your seeds finely a little at a time so that they are evenly spread over the ground. Break up into crumbs and sprinkle some of the surrounding soil over the seeds, they do not need to be totally covered some seeds will germinate better if they are not buried. Water very carefully with a fine spray so that you do not disturb the seeds. To protect the area from birds, animals or from being walked on you may want to place bright tape around and across it, push in twiggy sticks or even add a scarecrow. Check on your seeds regularly and water if the soil looks dry.
As well as a stunning colourful display to enjoy, wildflowers are beneficial to wildlife too:
Bees – Main pollinators of flowering plants and very important for wild flowers and growing food.
Butterflies – Their numbers are in decline, they feed on nectar using their long proboscises, in particular yellow and purple flowers.
Moths – Feed on nectar from flowers, most are nocturnal but not all are, you may see the Hummingbird Hawk Moth or the pink and green Elephant Hawk Moth on your wild flowers.
Wasps – Many are pollinators and will eat bugs such as aphids.
Hoverflies – Adult Hoverflies feed on nectar and pollen, their larvae eat aphids.
Ladybirds – Their grey larvae are voracious feeders of aphids.
Caterpillars – Butterflies and Moths lay their eggs on the food plant that their larvae will feed on, these include many species of wild flowers.
Birds – Feed on the seed heads as well as the insects on the plants
Bats – Feed on flying insects attracted to the wildflowers.
Hedgehogs – Feed on the bugs and insects within your wildflower patch.
What you need to do
Grow Wild is giving away 100,000 free wildflower seed kits with the aim of transforming local spaces with wildflowers, each kit contains enough seed for 10sqm, if your area is smaller than this pass on and share your seeds to transform another space, the kits contain seeds native to your location; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Register online on behalf of your group or local groups, before the closing date of midnight on 14th February 2016, for more information and to register visit growwilduk.com
Don’t delay – register today!