A wildflower is defined as one that is native to the country and has not been cultivated or modified by artificial selection or breeding. Wildflowers are special because they can be naturally vibrant, or subtle and unusual and they have fantastic names like ‘Birdsfoot trefoil’ or Autumn Hawkbit or Selfheal. Some have unique medicinal properties that have been used for centuries e.g. Ox-eye Daisy can make a syrup for chesty coughs and Selfheal can be used as a poultice to stop bleeding.
Unfortunately wildflower meadows have been steadily in decline since the first & second world wars. This is mainly due to increased farming as vast areas of meadow have been cleared for crop production and grazing, and so many wildflowers are in danger of extinction in the wild.
Wildflowers are very important to us as they help maintain a healthy eco-system. They attract beneficial insects into the garden that feed on the wildflowers and make their home in them. In turn these insects help to fertilise our crops to grow produce for us to eat and the insects are food for other wildlife. Corn marigold and cornflowers are needed by hoverflies; Field scabious is loved by adult butterflies; Birdsfoot trefoil is great for bumblebees and butterflies. This is a very symbiotic relationship that needs to be maintained.
Wildflowers are also very useful for the home gardener as they can be used in parts of the garden which are difficult to cultivate conventionally e.g. because it is too dry, ground slopes steeply or the soil is poor. Wildflowers have naturally adapted themselves to suit difficult situations in order to survive.
Wildflowers have many benefits and they need to be actively grown and to ensure our future health and well being. To do this successfully the wildflowers sown must suit the site & soil and with a little bit of management a beautiful meadow will thrive and a healthy balanced ecosystem can be maintained.