Postcard from the UK from Jennifer Stackhouse

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One of the delights of visiting the UK countryside in spring is seeing masses of wildflowers. While they can grow and bloom undisturbed along the canals and towpaths in Wales where I’ve been travelling on a narrowboat, they are more likely to be mown down in towns by homeowners and local council workers.

Swathes of Queen Anne’s lace, buttercups, bluebells, red campion, and a little white flower called greater stitchwort are abundant along the canals and roadside verges. In the towns and villages, lawns are dotted with lawn daisies while dandelions, which flower earlier in spring and provide nectar, are now in seed in fields where buttercups and red clover are also in full bloom. Here and there mown paths provide access.

A campaign called ‘No Mow May’ (plantlife.org.uk) has gained momentum in the UK in recent years. It was launched to encourage homeowners and councils to hold off mowing during spring so wildflowers can grow, bloom and set seed.

Ephemeral wildflowers are not just beautiful, they play a vital part in the life cycle of insects and birds both in sad decline. Insects rely on the wildflowers for food and the birds in turn feed on the insects to rear their young.

Here’s hoping that leaving the wildflowers to thrive in May (and hopefully longer) means more insects and everyone can continue to enjoy the sight and sounds of birds in the landscape.

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