And the word grassland is important. Grow wild flower meadows in your own garden to help our pollinators – birds, bees and butterflies. If one group of species is in decline, that can lead to the loss of many more. From a design perspective, wildflower meadows can be a great use of unused space. American Meadows has become famous for our wildflower seed mixes. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies. You can follow Jeremy Coles and BBC Earth on Twitter. It is also important to note at this point that planting a meadow is not quite the same as planting a garden. Wildflower meadow at the Giant's Causeway, Painted Lady Butterflies pictured on a Red Clover wildflower, A colourful array of wildflowers pictured at the Giant's Causeway, Painted Lady spotted on Knapweed wildflower. “We want everyone to have the opportunity to experience wildflower meadows in all their summer glory again – to be able to revel in the wildlife. Large wildflower meadows of UK native species are the best thing for supporting insects and animals, however it is clearly unrealistic to create these in urban areas! The following statement from Plantlife sums up why wildflower meadows are important and why urgent action is needed to conserve them ; "These are arguably the UK’s most threatened habitats. Wild flower meadows provide shelter and food for important pollinators including bees. Ha… It’s a decline that continues today, decades of careful management being undone in a few hours. “As well as supporting pollinating insects that are valuable for many food crops they help mitigate flooding by holding on to rain water and capture vast amounts of carbon,” Dr Dines tells BBC Earth. The scale of the decline is breath-taking. 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. And what remains is mostly scattered fragments of just a few acres and vulnerable to disappearing under the plough. The National Trust Rangers at the Giant’s Causeway work continuously to maintain these existing meadows, but also have been creating new ones, like the beautiful wildflower meadow next to the Visitor Centre. According to The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s. When you plant garden seeds, you will see – and harvest – results in the same season. I visit new meadows we have seeded which have worked very well, yet the clients are unhappy. Meadows develop as a result of traditional farming practices. For example, in Gwynedd, north Wales, three new meadows were created, one of which had five times more species just one year after it was restored. The Ranger team have also conducted other specific bee conservation projects at the Giant’s Causeway, including building a dedicated nesting bank for solitary mining bees located at Innisfree Farm. For the greater part, our understanding of what it was like is now confined to memory. For example, the common blue butterfly lays its eggs on bird’s-foot trefoil. Wildflower meadows are just one method of attracting and supporting a range of species. The roughly 4-acre plot features about 105 different species of native grasses, sedges, rushes and wildflowers—all divided into two distinct habitats. 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. A meadow is home to many different species of native grasses – such as sweet vernal grass or crested dog’s-tail – and this is why they are so much softer in colour. So to celebrate these now very rare and special spaces and to raise awareness of their striking decline, the first ever National Meadows Day was held on Saturday 4 July. 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 is important to choose the meadow that will be most successful on the site you have to offer: Perennial meadows thrive best on poor soils because the grasses compete less with the wildflowers. At the moment, there are some spent flower heads but plenty more in bloom. From a purely selfish point of view it's a damn nuisance. We use cookies to provide you with a better service. Grass is then allowed to grow until being cut between July and late August depending on location, weather conditions and wildflower species present. The main reason for the vast uptake of wildflower meadows is for conservation purposes. Search Knowledge Base by Keyword Filter by Categories Clear Results Aftercare Autumn Delivery Information Enviromat Grasses, Flowers & Species Installation Instructions Meadowmat Product Information Seasonal Information Seed & Fertiliser Soil & Bark Spring Summer Tools & Sundries Turf Winter How Wildflower Meadows Make Great Homes For Wildlife← Main MenuBritain’s wildlife is an important … The team used sods of grass, local stones, sand and gravel to create the bank. “For the greater part, our understanding of what it was like is now confined to memory,” Dr Dines says. 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. Wildflower meadows are one of the most beautiful ways to encourage wildlife to your garden and reduce labour intensive gardening. Only cut your meadow after July when the wildflowers have set their seed. The loss of pollinating insects could threaten our own food supply. With more than 35 years of experience, we carefully craft our wildflower seed mixes to make it easy for you to grow a wildflower meadow that offers season-long color, year after year. In either case, it's important to choose a mix that will thrive in your particular sun, soil, and climate conditions. Therefore, it is important to remember that one beehive is not a proven line of bees! Wildflowers provide pollinators and i… The native wildflower hay meadow is one of the most important and easiest of these habitats to create. 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. “About 35 percent of the world’s food crops need insects to pollinate them. 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. According to the charity’s botanical specialist, Dr Trevor Dines, all that remain are just 26,000 acres (10,500 hectares) of lowland wildflower meadow and 2,223 acres (900 hectares) of upland hay meadow in the UK. But the turning point came during the Second World War when six million acres of grassland were ploughed to grow cereals, starting the inevitable decline. 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. Each small farm would have grown a few crops, had permanent pasture for grazing, and meadows for hay that were cut and stored to feed the livestock over winter. “The key is to make meadows a viable part of farming systems again, recognising their economic, social and environmental value.”, We want everyone to have the opportunity to experience wildflower meadows in all their summer glory again. But they’re more than biodiversity hotspots. 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. To understand the causes of our loss, we need to appreciate what species rich grassland, or ‘true grassland’ is comprised of. Instead of such a mixture, you might prefer all flowers or all grasses. Everyone can do their bit to help by planting some wildflowers in their garden, or reducing the use of weedkillers, or even just cutting the grass a little less often.”. The insects then feed a host of animals including birds, hedgehogs and bats. Find out why bees are so important as pollinators on Dorset Museum’s pages. Summer brings a fabulous flush of colour and sweet smells to fully grown wildflower meadows. This is why when Wildflower Meadows evaluates colonies for breeding potential, we need to consider more than one colony. “The scale of the decline is breath-taking,” he says. Therefore, it is important to remember that one beehive is not a proven line of bees! In turn other animals like hedgehogs, birds and bats need the insects to feed on. 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. There are many factors to consider when creating or choosing, a wildflower seed mix. Encouraging a slice of the wild in your garden can be a satisfying way of attracting a wide diversity of birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife. BBC – Earth – Why wildflower meadows are so special. Important flagship projects such as Plantlife’s Coronation Meadows and Save our Magnificent Meadows, have made important gains in changing attitudes towards meadows. Despite their high wildlife value and intrinsic cultural appeal, our magnificent meadows have suffered… Wildflower meadows require significantly less upkeep than perfectly mown lawns – arguably why so many more are appearing in formally formal spaces. … In summer a traditionally-managed, flower-rich meadow becomes a mini jungle, alive with brightly coloured wild flowers, buzzing and chirping insects, and the sweet song of the skylark as it rises and falls overhead. What type of wildflower meadow? Not only are they suitable for large spaces, but they can also be scaled down and used in smaller gardens too, where wildflower patches can be turned into features and cordoned off with stylish panels. They are such wonderful habitats that support a rich variety of insect life. They also create a variety of colours, shapes and smells providing an interesting display throughout spring, summer and autumn. As well as being great food sources and places for mating, these meadows are also valuable cover for animals to raise their young. Yes, of course, but they have begun to think that this constitutes a traditional wildflower meadow - or perhaps a wildflower meadow should be full of sunflowers! Find a National Meadow Day event near you and experience a meadow in summer, like we used to do. There are over 250 species of bee in the UK and they play a vital part in supporting the ecosystem. “Only then will we really understand what we came close to losing,” Dines says. 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. However, a meadow remains an important and crucial habitat, he explains, with over 150 different species of flower and grass that support a myriad of insects from bees and beetles to grasshoppers and butterflies, which in turn support many small animals and birds. They also say that in the UK, more priority species for conservation are associated with grasslands than with any other habitat type. This is why when Wildflower Meadows evaluates colonies for breeding potential, we need to consider more than one colony. They do require a rather unusual cutting regime that if followed will help keep your wildflower meadow coming back year after year. The seriousness and causes of the decline has been outlined in a report by the charity Plantlife. Determine the right seed mix. When you picture the perfect countryside you may imagine it filled with meadows full of flowers, however they are now almost considered to be a rare sight. By suppressing grasses and reducing soil fertility, wild flowers are conserved. Livestock are usually excluded from meadows sometime between the middle of March and late April (later in upland areas). This loss of meadows and species-rich grasslands is without parallel in the history of nature conservation in the UK according to Save Our Magnificent Meadows, a partnership project led by the charity Plantlife to promote and protect our vanishing meadows. We really need to look at the queen’s entire family, and her family ties. “The air is warm with the scent of flowers, sweet and floral from clover and more exotic vanilla from the fragrant orchids. And near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, hundreds of wildflowers were restored to chalk grassland to provide food plants for butterflies. There are multiple types of meadows, such as agricultural, transitional, and perpetual, each important to the ecosystem. We really need to look at the queen’s entire family, and her family ties. Meadows and species-rich grasslands can support a huge range of wildlife including wildflowers, fungi, bees, flies, beetles, spiders, moths, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, bats and birds. It may sound obvious but 100 years ago Britain’s countryside was a very different place. As well as the environmental benefits, they are pleasing on the eye and easy to manage. If you have rich soil, it is worth removing the top layer and sowing directly into dug or rotovated sub-soil Like BBC Earth on Facebook and follow us on Instagram. Once lost, our species-rich meadows and grasslands cannot easily be restored. Read about our approach to external linking. Seed from a reserve in Norfolk was used to restore a meadow and the year after rare sulphur clover was found. Back then it would have been awash with colourful flower-rich meadows and grasslands that were an intrinsic part of our agriculture and people’s daily lives. Yet, the shocking thing is – since the 1930s, the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows – equating to roughly 7.5 million acres. But the future is looking as bright as some of the wildflowers. That’s why we put in so much effort to encourage the native wildflowers to flourish in the Giant’s Causeway coastline to support our pollinators. This wildflower area is about 3 weeks away from needing a cut. “It is what National Meadows Day is all about – encouraging people to experience this once again,” Dines says. Create a small hole for each plant and add a little compost to the bottom of the hole to help the plant establish quickly, plant then water well. Removing the cuttings will benefit the wildflowers by preventing nutrients returning to the soil. Species-rich grassland now only covers a mere 1% of the UK’s land area. For me this is wishful thinking. Many birds, bats, small mammals and some amphibians also thrive on the food and shelter that a meadow ecosystem pr… So why have we seemingly excelled in annihilating them? Wildflowers support a myriad of insects such as this burnet moth However, a meadow remains an important and crucial habitat, he explains, with over 150 different species of … The best part is that the maintenance of a wildflower meadow is much easier than a traditional garden, and will have the added bonus of providing colour and wildlife interest from spring until the last days of summer. Changing between earlier (early July) and later cuts (late August), rather than cutting at the same time each year will allow later flowering plants to set seed. Some pollinators can’t travel too far to find food so it’s really important that there are food sources and refuges dotted around for them to visit.