When Prince Charles read Plantlife UK's report a decade ago, he was horrified to find that England had lost 97 percent of all its natural wildflower meadows. As a long standing champion of sustainability and biodiversity, the future king of England decided to take action.
He set up the Coronation Meadows Initiative, which helped build 60 wildflower meadows, one for each year since his mother, the Queen, ascended to the throne. This royal initiative caught the imagination of the Brits, and 60 meadows became 90 (totaling over 1,000 acres) and throughout the country converting old animal paddocks and lawns into wildflower meadows became wildly popular and very fashionable.
Environmental charities and societies are utilizing these trends to promote pollinator restoration, carbon sequestering, and all other manners of ecological benefits.
In Ipswich, on England's southeastern coast, a valley running was turned into landfill in the 1960s and loaded up with trash. Capped and left to sit, in 2017 Landseer Park was turned into a 50 acre wildflower and pollinator sanctuary by a charity called Buglife. It’s now home to rare bee species and butterflies such as the dark green fritillary. A local reporter observed:
“Such is the subtle majesty of our native wildflowers that their beauty only becomes truly apparent close up: the lilac of field scabious; the flamboyant blue spikes of viper’s-bugloss; the yellow, honey-scented lady’s bedstraw - the names conjuring up images of their usage back centuries ago when people understood better the properties of our natural flora.”
In the UK, if you're thinking of turning some land into wild meadow, you may find a new charity - the Woodmeadow Trust - as it helps advise landowners on creating this iconic English habitat everywhere, from Yorkshire in the north to London in the south. That aspiration has a slogan: “a woodmeadow in every parish.”
Over the coming years, the larger Plantlife UK charity is hoping to capitalize on the wildflower appreciation trend with a campaign to restore 360,000 acres of wildflower meadows (120k hectares) across the nation.
They practice natural seeding techniques, which involves harvesting seeds at different times from local strains of plant species and seeding areas with this stock rather than buying wildflower seeds from a store. The difference is that the naturally collected seeds will create plants which grow and produce nectar and flowers at different rates, meaning the season during which pollinators can find food, and humans can stroll among the beautiful petals, will be much longer.
Plant Life’s Magnificent Meadows website contains all kinds of resources for making your own wildflower meadow, and how to get involved in the movement to save the English meadow, an important piece of ecological identity.
In a boost to diversity, Highways England's scheme to encourage species-rich grasslands could create hundreds of miles of rare habitats after decades of loss. This wonderfully good news follows the success of projects like the Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset, where native wildflowers have thrived on chalk verges. Remarkably, the area is now home to half of the butterflies in the UK. More...
Of course, restoring old landfills for the benefit of nature, isn't just an English passion. Picture New York’s Central Park with rubbish piled 20 stories high. Now multiply that by three. That’s how ghastly the Staten Island garbage dump (the world's biggest) used to be. But where there once was a giant dump just 20 years ago, a massive green park now sits where flora and fauna flourish.