Monday 1 August 2016

Are planted wildflower meadows a good thing or not?

There's a wee bit of a discussion going on on Twitter at the moment about whether City of Edinburgh Council's planted wildflower meadows are a good thing or not.

After my recent dental appointment I had visited the Silverknowes wildflower meadow, which was dancing with white butterflies, it was a lovely sight and passers by were complementing the flowers.

Today I was patrolling the Water of Leith in my weekly conservation voluntary work. At one end of my walk is Spylaw Park, which also has a newly planted wildflower meadow

This meadow was buzzing with bumble bees, honey bees and several species of hoverfly, like this Syrphus species

and this Eristalis species

Then today I walked further than normal right up to Saughton Park where there's three linear wildflower meadows

By this time it had clouded over quite a bit, but there were still quite a few bees and hoverflies enjoying the nectar.

So, the discussion I mentioned at the beginning of the post has revolved around whether it's better to leave areas of grass unmown for most of the year (mowing once a year) or to plant wildflower meadows like those in these photos (which some people argue are unnatural and give people a distorted view of wildflowers).

In some cases the annual mow works beautifully, as you can see in the orchid filled roadside verge on Corstorphine Hill that I blogged about here. That's the ideal, where this minimal management regime allows a rich natural flora to thrive.

On the other hand, not all areas of grassland would be filled with orchids and other delicate flowers if they were allowed to grow naturally. Many would be filled purely with umbellifers and other more obviously weedy species. I've nothing at all against umbellifers, they're beautiful and the insects love them, just look at this myathropa florea hoverfly that I saw in Colinton Dell today (and the hoverflies were chasing each other round this patch of umbellifers!).

The point is though that to get the full variety of native flowers, in this day and age we sometimes need to give nature a helping hand. In some cases that may mean a relaxed mowing regime, in others it may mean planting seeds of rarer or more delicate plants.

And I'm with the hoverflies, both work and work well! So well done to City of Edinburgh Council on providing a variety of habitats for our insects, because they need as much help as they can get!

Plus the planted wildflower meadows draw people's attention and make them think about the beauty and importance of wildflowers.


eileeninmd said...

Hello, love the fields of wildflowers. Lovely images and post. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

Janneke said...

I should say:´Well done Councel of City of Edinburgh'!!

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Seems to be exactly the same seed mix they've used here - yellow and white ox eyes, and cornflowers. It was genius to do it here on a traffic island, and as long as they are not out competing resident species it shouldn't be a problem

FAB said...

I totally agree .. the bees and insects need all the help we can provide.

I have noticed that several local authorities have started planting relatively small areas of grass with wildflower mixes over the past 2 years which has prompted nothing but positive comments from residents.

RG said...

Well I like them - I do not know of such practices anywhere around here.

Lynn said...

I adore planted wildflower meadows. And here in the states - you sometimes see that in the expressway medians.

Beautiful photos!

Villrose said...

Isn't it a good thing for diversity? And beautiful too!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I think both types of wildflower areas have their place, and are far better to the typical, pollinator-unfriendly cultivation we usually see in urban areas.

Beautiful shots!

HKatz said...

I agree with your balanced view. And I love the photos. These are beautiful places.

Rambling Woods said...

I love to hear that at least it is being tried and discussed as opposed to doing nothing. Your country seems to be much more environmentally aware than many here in the US... Michelle