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Meadows and areas filled with wildflowers have dramatically declined over recent decades. Since the 1930s over 97% of our wildflower meadows have been lost in the UK. This is devastating news as they play such an important part in the eco system, which we sometimes are not aware of. Although there have been some initiatives carried out across the country to try and build up the amount of wildflower meadows we have, there is still a long way to go. This article discusses the importance of wildflowers and how we can try and ensure they do not disappear for good.
Why wildflowers are so important
They are a rich habitat for wildlife
One of the main benefits of wildflower meadows is that they provide a great place for wildlife to thrive. Animals can hide in the long grasses, and pollinators such as bees and other insects are drawn to the variety of flowers. Without bees pollinating the plants, we could lose many locally grown products such as our favourite fruit and veg. It is staggering the importance pollinating creatures have in terms of our food sources, and although alternative artificial pollinating processes have been created and are currently being developed, they are time consuming, costly and will never beat the real thing. During winter months, food is less freely available and wildflower seeds can be an important food source for birds and small mammals during the cold months.
They contribute to medical research
Some native wildflowers in the UK have been used in the past to create certain drugs and medical treatments. Foxglove has been used to create a drug used to treat heart conditions. Evening Primrose and Wild Garlic, among others, are known to also have medicinal properties. Having less wildflower meadows could impact the creation of some important drugs and potential new medicinal discoveries in the future.
They are culturally significant
Another important reason that wildflower meadows are important to the UK is for what they symbolise. Fields of wild poppies will always symbolise World War I and because of this, they will continue to play an important part of our history. Dandelions are also culturally significant as they remind many people of summertime during their childhood years.
They help with large quantities of rainfall
Another great advantage of wildflower meadows is their ability to cope with rainfall. When wildflowers are established, their root network is extensive and this stabilises the soil and ground. As a result, when there are large amounts of rainfall, the soil stays moist and healthy. This is particularly important on hillsides or slopes as the ground can easily be washed away and could end up in our water systems causing contamination and be dangerous to passers-by.
They have evolved over centuries to suit our environment
Over centuries, if not thousands of years, wildflowers that are native to our country have evolved to suit the climate in the UK. This in turn means that they have evolved alongside other wildlife and therefore are an integral part of our eco system. Having native UK wildflowers are, as a result, easier to care for because they are used to the climate. Non-native wildflowers can sometimes not suit the climate as well. Alternatively, they can compete against our native wildflowers, which can lead to certain plants being at risk of extinction.
They are beautiful
An advantage to wildflowers that cannot be ignored is their beauty. With so many varieties, their vibrant colours and amazing smells are a joy to the senses and truly make green spaces look magnificent.
What can we do?
Spreading the word of how important wildflowers are is a great place to start. This is something everyone can do. Growing wildflowers or a meadow area is the next step. Even if you have a small garden, you can leave a section of the grass un-mowed and try to create a mini meadow. Not only will it create a stunning feature to your garden, the wildlife will love it!
If you need more information or advice about wildflowers, then please contact us. Boston Bulbs Wholesale is a privately-owned business with over 35 years' experience of importing only the finest quality horticultural products throughout Europe and from farmers and growers all over the UK. Whether you're a landscaper, nursery, local authority, wholesaler, retailer, private business or individual gardener, just give us a call on 01775 769 333 or visit / for help with flower bulbs, grass seed and more.