Where are are the wild flowers gone?

Wildflowers are certainly a thing of beauty but are unfortunately a thing of the past for many parts of Ireland. Long gone are the sights of fields of cowslips and long gone are the days of picking buttercups for around the cow pats. The reason for this is the increase in intensive farming and the increased use of fertilizers on your land.

The increased use of these fertilizers have been to increase the levels of mainly Nitrogen in the soil and therefore increase the rate of grass growth to feed your hungry and tasty cows. The result of all this increased slurry and increased grass growth is the loss of the humble wildflowers and grassland meadows. Common flowers such as yellow rattle, red poppy, buttercup, daisy, and cowslips are being outcompeted by this vigorous grass plants.

To create a wildflower meadow there is a few less than natural things that should be done before you can sow your seed. Because  these seeds prefer not to compete with grass and therefore prefer to be grown in poorer soils with less topsoil and a lower fertility.

To achieve this in extreme cases the topsoil can be removed and stored. I suggest storing the topsoil because it is an invaluable resource and should not be wasted.  The seeds can then be sown directly in a prepared subsoil.

Alternatively, to prepare an area for wildflower seeds  you should first use a weedkiller  to kill off the existing vegetation. If you have a lot of grass and scutch grass then you may need to make three or four applications of weed killer before all the roots have been killed and before you can being sowing your seed.

If done properly the meadow and plants in it should thrive and provide a range and variety of colour throughout the summer and into autumn. The meadow will also help to, in the long run increase the amount of bees and insects in your garden and the surrounding landscape.

Biodiversity is an important feature of our landscape and with intensive farming and increased urbanisation and destruction of grasslands, hedgerows, bog-land and forests biodiversity has been on the decrease. A healthy environment and a healthy planet requires increased bio diversity and increased plant and animal species and wildflowers species to all co-exist in a balances eco system. 

Everyone can do their bit to help find that balance. Planting native species, using less chemicals, using a controlled amount of fertilizer and weed killer, planting wildflowers and traditional fruit trees and composting, reuses and recycling garden and household waste all helps to protect and nurture the plants and animals that we live amongst.

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