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Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust: The beauty and importance of nature's wildflowers

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While the bluebells that have been so prolific and magnificent this spring have pretty much faded away, except in extremely shady spots, the combination of long days and significant recent rainfall have brought a profusion of wildflowers into bloom.

There seem to be fabulous displays all around.

Over the last week or so I’ve seen and enjoyed stunning displays of wildflowers on neighbours’ allotments, local roadside verges and in street-side flowerbeds at Stonebridge City Farm in the centre of Nottingham.

Poppies growing at the entrance to Stonebridge City Farm in Nottingham by Erin McDaid.
Poppies growing at the entrance to Stonebridge City Farm in Nottingham by Erin McDaid.

As well as significantly lifting my spirits and brightening my days, when I’ve had the opportunity to get up close to the wildflowers it’s been plain to see that bees and vital and pressured pollinators have been appreciating them too.

We seemingly have to absorb an unending stream of bad news about the environment and with the prospect of wall-to-wall doom and gloom if we don’t alter our ways pretty sharpish.

With this as our routine backdrop, it can be difficult to focus on the positives, but nature’s ability to bounce back should give us all real hope and the ability of many species of wildflower to thrive almost anywhere, in what appear to be hostile conditions and to provide valuable habitat for beneficial species so quickly, sometimes in a matter of weeks, is something we can and should focus on.

Daisies and poppies spotted on a neighbouring allotment by Erin McDaid.
Daisies and poppies spotted on a neighbouring allotment by Erin McDaid.

While it is impossible to recreate the complexity of an ancient wildflower meadow, with interdependent relationship between geology, soil, fungi, invertebrates and micro-scopic life built up over hundreds if not thousands of years, we can quickly create habitat that will benefit species under stress.

Through campaigns such as No Mow May, people are encouraged to allow their lawns to go wild, but even those without gardens might be able to find room in a window box, planter or hanging basket to sow a few seeds to bring a splash of colour and some life.

As soon as the first flowers open they are likely to attract interest from insects seeking out pollen. This almost instant result can be a real inspiration to do more for nature.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

While I would encourage everyone to find room for at least a patch of wildflowers, I feel that the month of June is when Mother Nature is perhaps least in need of help in terms of providing inspiration and motivation for us to do more — such is the splendid succession of flowers to enjoy.

Over the coming weeks, everything from ox-eye daisies to orchids will be vying for our attention along with myriad of pollinating insects feeding on they — adding to the magic of wildflower areas.

The experience of sitting peacefully at the edge of a meadow watching the delicate grasses and colourful blooms swaying in a summer breeze is one to be treasured. Given that as much as 98% of our species rich meadows have been lost, it is sadly not as easy to experience as it once was but thankfully Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust still has some wonderful meadows in our care.

Many parks also now contain areas where wildflowers have been allowed to return through changes to mowing regimes or as a result of new planting and sowing.

Hopefully, future generations will still be able to experience the magic of a traditional wildflower meadow and we are determined to ensure that areas that remain are protected, and to help turn back the clock by restoring habitats.

In the meantime, we can all do our bit by creating mini meadows at home or within our community, and by encouraging councils to be more creative, or simply less tidy, when they are managing public areas.

­— Erin McDaid,

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

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