Aaah, the soothing sound of the British countryside – bees buzzing, butterflies butterflying and birds tweeting. But – make the most of it, folks, these sounds may not be so familiar and common in years to come.
Man is slowly destroying the countryside with intensive farming methods, use of pesticides and herbicides, and building. 98% of Britain’s wildflower meadows have disappeared – only 1,000 hectares are left. Our need for more land for food and housing has had a catastrophic effect on wildflowers and wildlife. Some species only have one wildflower as their sole food plant – if that flower becomes extinct, so does the species. For example, Kidney Vetch is the sole food plant of the Small Blue butterfly. Without Kidney Vetch there is no Small Blue.
Much has also been made of the crisis in our bee populations. Bees also need nectar-rich wildflowers to aid their survival. Less food plants for bees means less bees, which means less pollination and less food for us. A number of our wildflowers are so scarce they are protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act and are on the Red Data list as endangered or close to extinction, for example, the pretty Deptford Pink. To dig these up and any other wildflowers is illegal.
“Oh, but what can we do to help reverse this trend?” I hear you cry. The answer is simple – grow wildflowers and encourage others to do the same. British wildflowers are beautiful – and they have such endearing names. Who could resist a few Weaselsnouts in their garden or some orange Fox and Cubs!
By coincidence, weddings are great for spreading the word! I don’t mean a spot of preaching about it in the groom’s speech – something a bit more subtle! Give your guests packets of wildflower seeds as favours or print your wedding invites on paper that has some wildflower seeds in it. The hope is that your guests will actually plant the seeds and love the flowers so much that they will want to plant more in their gardens, especially when they see how many bees and butterflies come to visit! Their friends will come to visit and admire their Lady’s Smocks, Ragged Robins and Soldiers Buttons and want to grow them too, and, hey presto, more and more of us are growing wildflowers!
The bees and butterflies will love you for it! You could also have rustic pots of cut wildflowers adorning your wedding venue, just to show your guests that wildflowers really are beautiful! You could be a bit more subtle and name your tables after wildflowers and have your table plan adorned with wildflowers. How about a wildflower bouquet instead of a more formal traditional one?
Go on, be a bit different – you’re in love, you’ve proclaimed your love to your friends and family, now spread the love and grow some!
Thanks you to Wildflower favours for this guest post