Wildflower expert aims to reverse decline of UK plants

Wildflower expert Charles Flower's new book claims to be able to help halt the decline of Britain's wild plants and flowers.

Where Have All The Flowers Gone - Restoring Wild Flowers To The Garden and Countryside (Papadakis, £25), aims to halt the decline in Britain's native wildflowers and plants by encouraging gardeners to help revive wildflower meadows.

Successes recounted by Charles Flower, who runs Flower Farms at Shalbourne, Berkshire, include a project at Magdalen Hill Down in Winchester, which has led to the colonisation by 26 butterfly species in two years.

Flower charts the destruction provoked by modern farming methods during the 1970s and 1980s.

He said that the restoration of wildflowers is now essential to safeguard threatened species: "When all the hay meadows disappeared, many people felt that somehow it was better to wait for colonisation of new meadows to occur naturally rather than accelerate the whole process by adding new seed. Several developments have changed this view. The status of certain species of butterflies has become so precarious that we simply cannot wait for colonisation to take place over a long period. The risk of losing species is too great."

Flower pioneered practical methods of wildflower restoration on his own farm, where he grows wildflower seed crops and runs restoration workshops.

Flower added: "We have been through many painful years of seeing our meadows destroyed but it is possible to harvest seed, propagate it and create new meadows, woods and hedges so that wildflowers can be successfully re-established, not only in the countryside but also in our gardens. Planting for diversity ensures an abundant supply of nectar over a long period."

- from the woodland primrose in March through to fleabane in the wet meadow in September - and garden and wildlife enthusiasts will soon enjoy reaping the rewards as they entice back countless butterflies and other insects."

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