The Grumpy Naturalist

Plantlife – Wildflowers Countdown : 90 second read by Farriz Mashudi 10/08/2020

Two days ago, I met a rep from Plantlife. They work hard to eek-out a living for fiercely independent free-spirited botanicals that are otherwise homeless and dying out.

Wildflowers aren’t so wild these days, it seems. At least not in the ability to spread their love and sow their own seeds. We could all do our bit, she said.

As boundless and infinite as they may seem, apparently, there’s more to planting wildflowers than simply blowing dandelion webs into the wind.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite

Been some years ago now, but the disappointment of broken advertising promises still smarts. I’d cleared the weeds and raked the dirt (properly following the instructions), before shaking out loose seeds bought from Tesco’s. At 99 pence a packet for what looked like it could achieve a lot (per the picture on the front), for a time-pressed gardener, they offered an irresistible proposition: Just spread over the ground, and Nature will do the rest. Didn’t happen, did it?

  • Was it birds that helped themselves to a feast?
  • Worms that didn’t do their job?
  • Not enough water? Too much rain?
  • Too little sun? . . . WHAT?

Outside the fence, a dappled clearing leads into the woods. Fire weed grows in stacks like choristers lined-up along the river side; Blue bells struggle, peeping out when we’re lucky beneath dense foliage. (FYI, it’s illegal to pick them or walk nearby.) Still, here’s a patch I could do something with. . . Plantlife want people to make their own meadows too. So, how long would it take for a wild flower meadow to grow, expand happily, and be at home? (Preferably without any hand-holding.)

Photo by Johannes Plenio

From their website I see the ‘Road Verge Campaign’ is gaining momentum . . .

Not big on tidy, ‘free flowers’, in times of economic crunch. A neat idea indeed.

45% of the UK’s flora grows by the roadside.

‘15,800 acres of meadow created or restored’.

‘Meadows help prevent floods and restore carbon’ . . . OK, I’m sold.

But the website doesn’t show how to DO IT YOURSELF for planting. No worries, there’s plenty of help out there, the top tip being to leave the prepared soil for at least two weeks (to be rid of the most stubborn weeds and returning grasses).

14 days. Isn’t that rather long?

Then another year to see the results, fingers crossed. Gardening, even in the wilds, is never instant, nor without risk.

Luckily, this one’s always game. . . Now where have I put the rest of those seeds?

Time travel is possible!
On 08/08/2020 Plantlife was out and about (at an appropriate distance) in the gardens of The Thomas Shop, Penybont

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