Why are wildflowers important?
There have been about 500 species of wildflower recorded on Cumbria’s roadside verges, although many of these are in decline. These support a wide biodiversity of insect life including pollinators such as bees and butterflies, as well as many larger animals such as birds and mammals. These strips of wild land act as “biological corridors”, linking up other habitats and providing safe refuge for animals to travel between them.
In addition, the wildflowers themselves are colourful, beautiful and lovely to see, when driving, cycling or walking along the road in summer, and various research has shown that seeing flowers can make us happier! Some of the species that can be found here in Cumbria are very rare and can only be found in a few sites around the country. Cumbria is renowned for its stunning scenery, and losing our wildflowers will not only greatly harm our biodiversity but the beauty of the landscape as well.
How are wildflowers threatened?
Since the 1930’s Britain has lost a whopping 97% of its wildflower meadows, with silage production replacing traditional hay-making. Unfortunately, silage production is very intensive, and few wildflowers manage to survive the process. Roadside verges have become one of the last strongholds of our native wildflowers. Some of the main threats to our wildflowers are cutting and mowing the roadside verges and fields before the flowers have seeded and reproduced. Driving or using machinery on the verges can also kill the plants as well as damaging the structure of the soil, especially when the ground is wet.
How YOU can help!
- Learn and spread the word about our wildflowers! Feel free to share this webpage and/or video to help promote the cause!
- Consider donating to or volunteering with conservation organisations such as Plantlife and Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
- Leave areas in your garden (or on the verge, if you manage it) to grow wild instead of mowing, or cut later in the year (late August) after the wildflowers have seeded. HOWEVER not mowing for years can lead to the meadow turning into scrub, with small trees outcompeting the flowers for light and space. To maintain the meadow habitat for wildflowers, the full width of the verge should be mown every few years.
- Keep cultivated plants for your own garden rather than planting them in public areas like verges.
- Where avoidable don’t drive or use machinery on the verges, especially when the ground is wet!
You can contact Cumbria Wildlife Trust at 01539 816300 (Monday to Friday 9-5pm) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can contact Plantlife with general enquiries at 01722 342730 (Monday to Friday 9-5pm) or email email@example.com