Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Wildflower Meadow Museums

My friends Rosemary and Palle are wildlife conservationists - real ones. Great activists in the worldwide campaign to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in agriculture, they created their own nature reserve dedicated to wildflowers, bees and other wildlife.

They own the field beyond the bottom of their garden, and it took more than three years to convert it into a wildflower meadow, which after five years, was quite wonderful. Knee deep in all kinds of flowers and grasses, I felt that I was back in childhood. The sound of buzzing insects, butterflies flitting to and fro, and even a tiny, perfectly camouflaged bush cricket would crawl out from underneath a green leaf. Grasshopper calls, reminded me of childhood days walking through meadows scattering insects at every step. There was colour, visual diversity, and variety that only nature can provide, and at every turn something of interest. The wild flower species were too numerous to list, but the overall abundance and mix of plants was what impressed most. Tracks through the meadow suggested badgers and foxes visited during the night. Lifting a sheet of plywood by the path would often send a bank vole scooting for cover in the undergrowth, and there were slowworms here too.

Alas all this is history. Maybe the pesticide-poisoned ground could not support this amount of wildlife, or perhaps the effect of glyphosate, which now contaminates our planet was the real cause, but the meadow is now a shadow of its former self.

Although all is not yet lost in our countryside we are now falling over the cliff. Time is fast running out if we are to turn things around for our grandchildren. What a tragedy if the few fields like Rosemary and Palle’s that remain are treated as museums when our grandchildren grow up.

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