Friday, 20 May 2011

Wild flowers - inconspicuous but intriguing

It wasn't until we started growing MeadowMat alongside Enviromat and Q Lawns turf, that I began to take proper notice of the wildflowers growing all around me.  I used to think of flowers as big, bright, colourful blooms that get delivered by a smiley-faced lady whenever my husband feels he should apologise, but now I hold an entirely different view.
These poppies in my garden give a bold
bright splash of colour - they're real showgirls
Don't get me wrong.  I love cultivated flowers.  My garden is full to bursting with them.  I love their strong colourways, their shapes, their vibrant foliage and of course, their amazing scent. I have endless admiration for the plant breeders who every year introduce new varieties, new colour combinations, petal shapes, growth habits........incredible.  But lately I've become more observant while I'm out with the dogs and actually, when it comes to creating plants and flowers, Mother Nature is pretty blooming good.

I can't help thinking that cultivated flowers exist mainly to entertain us; life would be dull without them, but, aside from food crops, we would survive without them. On the other hand the existance of wild flowers meets the world's more basic needs.  Although they are no longer an essential part of our food chain, wild flowers have been bred by nature to feed bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies and they, in turn, pollinate our food crops, thereby feeding us.
This is the point being raised by Buglife's "Get Britain Buzzing" campaign launched earlier this week and I can only urge everyone to support the campaign in whatever way you can.

Installing a small area of MeadowMat is a great way to start supporting British minibeasts.  I have a mere 6 square metres in my garden and I'm surprised at the huge variety of plants that are growing in it. I'm also surprised at how often I wander down the garden, get on my knees and start rummaging in the sward to see which of the plants I can identify and wonder which will be the next to flower.  What surprises me the most though is how a small area of wilderness at the bottom of my garden can inspire me to seek out and enjoy the truly wild flowers and plants that I've been ignoring for far too long.
buttercups, clover and daisys growing side by side in a traditionally managed meadow

buttercups and grasses this combination of wild plants will support minibeasts and cattle alike

Wild comfrey.  These flowers were hardly visible from a distance but the bees were loving them

ground ivy.  so small and subtle I nearly trod on it.  before the introduction of hops, the leaves of ground ivy were used to flavour beer
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