Meadows ablaze with wild flowers in bloom are a romantic ideal for many lovers of the countryside. However, they are not just a pretty sight. Our wildflowers are also essential building blocks of our biodiversity. For example, some species depend entirely upon one particular plant!
Unfortunately many of our wonderful wild flowers are also arable weeds much hated by farmers (and councils) and have been systematically removed from our landscape. When agriculture was less intensive they thrived, roadside verges had a much more varied flora and “unimproved” pasture had an exciting variety of flowering plants!
What's happening to wildflowers in Maidenhead?
Prospects for our wildflowers have recently improved and to their credit, RBWM and farmers have begun to take action.
Summer flowering meadows and even sown wild flowers beds are beginning to appear in our local parks and cemeteries as the public realise the importance of native flowering plants mixed with tall grass. Even something as small as clover has a huge benefit to our foraging bees who can now access these flowers in the months that matter to them over their breeding season.
The National Trust is of course instrumental in working with farmers through management of their meadows. Just look at all those cowslips in May on Pinkney’s Green common!
RBWM is also only one of nine councils singled out by Plantlife (a charity speaking up for wildflowers) in 2016 as leading the way in better managing their road verges for wildlife! You can read about this here:
Surveys of the flora of Berkshire began in 2012, see bsbi.org/berkshire, and are continuing for the next five years or so. All of the sites listed for the species in the Rare Plants Register are being visited to produce detailed records for planning and conservation, and will enable experts to detect changes in the flora in years to come. If you are interested in contributing to the project, please get in touch with Mick Crawley.
What can I do?
Very simply - support anywhere which allows a little piece of nature to thrive in either an urban area or the open countryside!
It is also very easy to grow your own wildflowers no matter how much space you have. Have a look at Plantlife for advice using this link: www.plantlife.org.uk/
If there is any other space you think would benefit from having a wildflower makeover then let us know. Maybe we can help.
If you are interested in learning more about flowers, the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland has more information: bsbi.org/field-meetings.