There are many factors to consider when creating or choosing, a wildflower seed mix. W ith its flower-rich meadows, woodland and ponds, Ash Common in the village of Ash Priors near Taunton is a lovely corner of unspoilt countryside. More than just pretty to the eye, wildflower meadows play an important role in maintaining a healthy eco-system, providing food and a home for a variety of wildlife. Dr Dines says that there is now, “more awareness and understanding of the need and value of meadows, what we’ve lost, and most importantly, how to bring them back. The scale of the decline is breath-taking. BBC – Earth – Why wildflower meadows are so special. “It is what National Meadows Day is all about – encouraging people to experience this once again,” Dines says. The seriousness and causes of the decline has been outlined in a report by the charity Plantlife. While they were building it Dr Cliff Henry spotted two different species – the chocolate mining bee and it’s parasite (Marshsam’s nomad bee), investigating it as a prospective home. Some insects cannot survive without certain species of plant. There are over 250 species of bee in the UK and they play a vital part in supporting the ecosystem. And the benefits are not just for biodiversity. Next time you visit the Giant’s Causeway look out for the vibrant colours of these picturesque blooms, which go a long way in supporting our native pollinators and keeping our planet healthy. It is worth remembering that wildflower meadows were once present in every parish in the country. G rowing a wildflower meadow area in your garden can be a satisfying way of attracting wildlife, is beautiful to look at and you don't necessarily need loads of space. Dr Cliff Henry, National Trust Area Ranger at the Giant’s Causeway explains why the creation of meadows like these are an important part of the conservation work at the UNESCO World Heritage Site; “It is worrying that we have lost so many of our wildflower meadows. According to The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s. Instead of such a mixture, you might prefer all flowers or all grasses. Wildflower meadows are one of the most beautiful ways to encourage wildlife to your garden and reduce labour intensive gardening. I visit new meadows we have seeded which have worked very well, yet the clients are unhappy. The team used sods of grass, local stones, sand and gravel to create the bank. A true meadow consists of native species with a mix of sizes and flowering times, and a large variety of grasses swaying in the wind as if they are being led by a maestro. Only cut your meadow after July when the wildflowers have set their seed. The reason it’s important to make the distinction is that a bed of poppies grows on fertile soil. Choose a suitable area. The meadow can be as big or small as your group can manage and they don’t have to cost anything to create. Gallery ... because projects such as Plantlife’s Coronation Meadows and Save our Magnificent Meadows, are supposed to have made important gains in changing attitudes towards meadows. It may sound obvious but 100 years ago Britain’s countryside was a very different place. You don’t need acres of land to create your own wildflower meadow, a patch of grass in an open sunny position can be easily transformed into a mini-meadow rich in wildflowers, providing cover and food for wildlife. When you plant garden seeds, you will see – and harvest – results in the same season. Removing the cuttings will benefit the wildflowers by preventing nutrients returning to the soil. It’s a decline that continues today, decades of careful management being undone in a few hours. And near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, hundreds of wildflowers were restored to chalk grassland to provide food plants for butterflies. Seed from a reserve in Norfolk was used to restore a meadow and the year after rare sulphur clover was found. We really need to look at the queen’s entire family, and her family ties. As well as being great food sources and places for mating, these meadows are also valuable cover for animals to raise their young. And what remains is mostly scattered fragments of just a few acres and vulnerable to disappearing under the plough. The roughly 4-acre plot features about 105 different species of native grasses, sedges, rushes and wildflowers—all divided into two distinct habitats. An excess of nutrients in a water system causes algal blooms (algae) which use up all the oxygen in the water, leaving none for other marine life such as fish. And the word grassland is important. “About 35 percent of the world’s food crops need insects to pollinate them. Starting from the roots, alongside the medicinal properties that can be found, established wildflower meadows have very stable soil due to the complex root systems formed by wildflowers. In the UK, more priority species (for conservation attention) are associated with grasslands than with any other habitat type. Find out why bees are so important as pollinators on Dorset Museum’s pages. Not only an idyllic image of our countryside, they are also vital feeding and nesting habitats for insects, butterflies, birds, small animals and other wildlife. The best time to create and sow your meadow is in autumn. The primary beneficiaries of these habitats are, as mentioned, the pollinators. Designer meadows don’t have the grasses, which is why they are such concentrated colour. 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