Have just been watching the programme on Gardener's World where Sarah talks about wild flowers and how to help conserve them. Absolutely brilliant. Gorgeous film, super music and a comentary that inspired but didnot heckle.
Wish more programmes followed this format instead of personalities implying how great they are and how they know so much more than the rest of us. As fanatical 'herbies' we do our little bit but I am sure this will help to convert some of the neat and tidy brigade. Congratulations to the President.
I watched the Gardener's world special on wild flowers as well. I loved the wild flower meadows they showed in Sheffield and wished we could have some in the middle of Birmingham! They did make it seem simple once you had willing landowners.
The flowers looked stunning and I'd love to know when they filmed it to get all those fantastic shots in beautiful sunshine and only one in pouring rain.
The only thing which slightly concerned me was the impression that once you give up a piece of land for a wildflower meadow, you just leave it. People were shown busily looking at flowers or sitting in them, but the importance was for the insects and flora and fauna. The only ray of light in this area was the guy in Sheffield who said "We don't mind the children picking the flowers". In the old days the wild flowers would have been harvested for their medicinal or dyeing purposes by all the villagers, everything had a use and was not just to be looked at!
I was really pleased to be told the uses of dyers greenweed as this has been a new addition to my herb garden since last year and I hadn't realised it was the source of all green dye.
I know what you mean about the clean and tidy brigade - I shall never be asked to join their illustrious ranks! Having said that, it has been a real joy this year to watch the bees and other insects on first the St John's wort, then the marjoram and golden rod and now the mint flowers in my garden. In the Cotswolds, it is always the echinacea, motherwort, goats rue, comfrey, calendula and Joe Pye weed they make for! It's almost hypnotic sitting on the verandah of the summerhouse and watching them fly in and out of the comfrey flowers!
On wild flowers
August 31 2008, 9:59 PM
I agree a hundred percent about the wild flowers being used etc. I grew up in a small village where wild flowers were loved and enjoyed but also used. For example country wines were made by the gallon with primroses and cowslips but still thrived. Woe betide the person who dug up any roots. As children we always came home wih a posey of flowers for mum. We knew where the first violets, primroses etc grew and would also take them to school for the nature table and often pick a bunch for an elderly neighbour who would smell them and sigh in delight. Food for the spirit. It reminds me of an occasion many years ago whem I lead a small nature club at the village school here. We had a visit from a young woman from the local Naturalist Trust, very worthy and keen, not in the job long, with a fund of technical knowledge but rather short on humour I thought. I'm afraid that she and I had a fairly sharp difference of opinion on allowing the children to pick flowers such as daisies, primroses buttercups etc which all grow in great profusion here. I asked how would the children learn to love and cherish the flowers if they were never allowed to touch them. "They must NEVER pick a flower" she said "especially primroses!" I pointed out that as a gardener of many years standing I knew that the primrose flowers continually for even longer if the flowers are picked, in other words dead-headed. She was not convinced and left thinking that I was the village idiot or something. Fortunately I've met many more enlightened botanists since then. In my own patch at the moment the bees and butterflies are busy(when it's not raining of course) on the marjorams and Lesser Calamint in particular. Fortunately the bummble bees also like the runner beans. We are having a talk by the Naturalist Trust tomorrow night at our Garden Club, I shall offer some roots of Lungwort for free as it is a superb nectar plant early in the spring. If the offer is taken up it will free up some space for some thing else.The stuff has got rather too big for its boots this year. If anyone in the N. Dorset area would like some, contact me.
Re: On wild flowers
September 1 2008, 9:22 AM
I thought Sarah's programme was lovely too, but "the elephant in the corner" was the farmer who said that he had been subsidising his wild flower meadow out of his own pocket for years.My own fields are stuffed full of orchids, cowslips etc and frequently come up with yellow rattle, Colchicum and adder's tongue.The holding is referred to as a "Site of County importance" whatever that might mean, but it costs me a hundred quid a year to cut it and in the last twenty years I have received a single cheque from the county of a hundred pounds to maintain it. In spite of the sanctimonious clap trap from the government about "country stewardship" schemes and all the rest of it, these "initiatives" are infinitely more trouble than they are worth unless applied to several hundred acres. During the current food shortages and economic problems, my attitude that the whole lot would be better ploughed up and put down to S23 rye grass for improved grazing or at least trees, is going to have more resonance with farmers than empty talk about our "national heritage" Of course none of us is going to destroy something we have protected for years, but most of us have got to retiring age and beyond, and when we give up who is going to take the land over? My children have their own children to feed and are compelled to take a more realistic attitude.
As for Jane's point about picking wild flowers, this is not as easy as it superficially appears. Anyone in charge of a group of children who allows indiscriminate picking is inevitably going to get sued if some little precious gets an upset stomach after experimenting with the "wrong kind" of flower (or even if the stomach condition had nothing more to do with flowers, than that the class supervisor made a convenient scapegoat) so it is safer either to forbid it or allow it only under strict supervision.In fact I have found that most children have a phobia about sticking anything in their mouths that hasn't come in a plastic bag and it's only after encouragement by their parents that they will eat flowers. But if like celebrity chefs, the parents can't tell the difference between Henbane and Fathen, the potential for fatalities and inquests is all too easily realised. As a nursery owner with more than seventy species of toxic plants, allowing random sampling is more than my insurance policy is worth. Some years ago I threw out a parent for encouraging her child's indiscriminate tasting and would unhesitatingly do so again. Unfortunately there is a conviction amongst the urban yummy-mummies that if it's a herb, it must be good for you. Personally given a choice between the mummies' ignorance and the kids' gut instincts, I would go with the kids anytime. Incidentally my two year old grand daughter has acquired the habit of eating snails (without garlic and butter, for heavens sake) straight from the field. I ascribe this to her mother being a vegetarian. Like I say, childrens' instincts are a priceless and life-preserving asset.
Re: Sarah Raven on wild flowers
September 1 2008, 5:44 PM
and it has given me a fabulous new word which i have been using at every opportunity...
"I'm just off out to do some botanising..."
"Well you can watch the golf and I'll botanise..."
Re: Sarah Raven on wild flowers
September 2 2008, 12:05 PM
Ahhhh I missed this, not watched Gardeners World since Monty left, will try and catch it on catch up TV later today and tell you what I think then. It was Sarah Raven that interviewed Jan Greenland for the GW spot that will be televised around May next year on herbs, can't wait to see Jan in action. I'll be popping up some background information fairly soon and a lovely photo of Jan that appeared in her local paper as a result of the GW filming.
Re: Sarah Raven on wild flowers
September 5 2008, 2:21 AM
Me neither. Haven't touched it since Monty left.
Would come back if Carol was put in charge, but they will never have a woman as top GWorlder.
Word is that the dandy-guy who doesn't actually know Jack about gardening has been given the job.
Don't mind: means extra 30 mins on Friday night with the wife.
It has always been Geoff & Monty. All other telly gardeners are frankly a waste of yr valuable time...
Re: Sarah Raven on wild flowers
September 5 2008, 10:45 AM
LOL Jim!!! I'm with you on this one, although I did warm to Alan T, but then he left, doh! Geoff got me into gardening and herbs, and I'll always remember him fondly as a result.
Back on topic... I've now watched the GW special, have to say first off, I loved her welly boots that look like doc martens and I've put them on my xmas list lol! I now know what Claire was referring to when she mentioned botanising, I'd never considered myself and amateur botanist, but I guess I am, I take great pleasure discovering new flowers to me, putting names to them, and learning their uses where applicable. Makes it all the more rewarding when you find wild herbs such as the wild St John's Wort and wild oregano that I found growing in the Derbyshire Dales.
There is such a wonderful crossover between wild flowers and herbs, I suppose it depends on your view point and which angle you're looking from as to how you'd catergorise them. Ramsons to me is a wild herb, others will view it as a wildflower. I actually think I may write a small article for the site on wild herbs, give me a chance to use the photos.
It was interesting to discover that Sarah's father was an amateur botanist and a talented artist, our previous President Sophie Grigson's father, Geoffrey, was also keen on botany and wrote some interesting books on the subject, Wild Flowers in Britain is a wonderful read and has some beautiful water colour illustrations in it. The book describes a British countryside all but gone now, which I'd dearly love to see come back to life.
I love the 'Green River' idea and hope it does catch on across the UK, I recall on an earrlier GW this year that some local councils were using the road side verges and islands to grow wild flowers instead of the traditional bedding plants. I think local councils should do their bit as much as local people. Like Jan I recall a nature table. maybe local schools can be encourage to have a wild flower corner and the children can then go and see the rich diversity for themselves. I think it was the nature table that taught me to love autumn and the richness of her colours so much, I recall collecting leaves in all their rust and golden glories. Loved the chap who described the kids picking the wild flowers as commiting 'positive vandalism', although it still gives that tone of it shouldn't be done. If we can get the numbers back to what they used to be, then every child will be able to pick a posy of bluebells and buttercups like we once did.
Must confess to being able to name brooklime straight away without needing a reference book, that convinced me that I have an addiction lol! I have brooklime growing in our little pond and it does need thinning out, but I think I'm going to make an effort to add more 'native' herbs to the garden next year. After the post I made the other day on 'September already' I'm questioning pulling up the wild seedlings that I decide to come grow in my garden. Maybe I can find a happy medium and everything can grow together. I really do hope this idea takes off right across the country, I'll investigate my local area and see whats happening. Anyone else plan on letting the wildflowers grow in their gardens?
letting wildflowers grow
September 5 2008, 3:01 PM
I no longer have a garden but I have lots of pavement pots outside my door. I always leave one pot just with soil in it and see what arrives of its own accord. Inevitably, I get self sowings from plants in the other pots (take a bow Feverfew!) but I have had a random visit from Borago one year and an extended stay by a self seeded Broom to name but two examples.
I've also started a collected-seed pot onto which i throw a few seeds I've collected on a walk. This means i can watch the wild plants grow closer to home, getting to know them better and hopefully becoming more able to spot them in the wild at various diferent points in their lifecycle. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but its all a learning process.
The neighbours think i'm odd but do i care?
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