National Gardening Week sends UK wild
10 April 2012
Millions of wildflower seeds will be sown throughout the UK next weekend, 14–15 April, to mark the launch of the UK’s biggest environmental campaign, RHS Britain in Bloom 2012. Marking the first National Gardening Week (16–22 April) this initiative should help to replenish some of the 97% of wildflower meadows lost since 1930.
The RHS has distributed 2,000 packs of wildflower seeds to nearly 1,200 Britain in Bloom groups, so that five acres of wildflower meadow will be sown across Britain over a 48-hour period. To join in, just type your postcode into a map on RHS Online.
‘Wild about Wildflowers’ is a nationwide initiative involving more than 200,000 community volunteers throughout the UK who clean up and green-up around 30,000 acres of public space (equivalent to more than 86 Hyde Parks) for the benefit of us all.
Wildflower populations in need of a boost
UK wildflower populations are in serious decline. Between 1930 and 1980, 97% of wildflower meadows were lost across England and Wales. Pressures from agriculture and development, together with neglect, continue to impact on the remaining areas. The effect this is having on our ecosystem is significant.
Sarah Raven, who presented Bees, Butterflies and Blooms on BBC TV and has been passionate about wildflowers since she was a little girl, supports the initiative. ‘We’re in the process of rediscovering our love for wildflowers so Wild about Wildflowers, is fantastic. Because we have destroyed so much of their natural habitat, it is crucial we restore as many flowers as possible. Our insects have evolved to feed from them and as we destroy more meadows, insect populations will continue to diminish and this is disastrous for the planet.
‘We need to love our planet for it to survive and what better way to do this than to engage with it in this way. I can’t wait to see the gorgeous colour that will emerge all over the country over the summer.’
The recent wildflower renaissance has produced a surge in popularity of wildflowers. Since the first episode of Bees, Butterflies and Blooms, 272 insect-friendly wildflower packs have been bought from The Wisley Plant Centre at RHS Garden Wisley; during the same period in 2011, no packs were bought. Individual wildflower-seed packs sales are up 310% from last year. There are also plans to sow two new wildflower meadows at RHS Garden Wisley this year.
Once the wildflowers are in full bloom groups will be able to record the number of insects they see via an online bug survey created by the RHS in partnership with invertebrate conservation charity, Buglife.