24 April 2018 by Roy Preece
Three-quarters of a century ago fields in England were full of wild flowers. I remember as a child walking waist-high in moon flowers and knapweeds with clouds of colourful butterflies and silvery white moths flying up before me. We picked armfuls of cowslips and lady’s-smocks and filled notebooks with collections of pressed flowers.
A few plants, such as chicory, had valuable trace elements for grazing animals; some such as clover were nutritious; most, like buttercups, were useless; a few such as ragwort were poisonous. Now farmers have used fertilisers and sprays to produce fields of pure grass which can support two or three times as many animals. 97 per cent of “flower rich meadows” have been lost, and with them much beauty and interest.
Of course, picking flowers is also harmful, especially to those plants that survive year by year by seeds. Picking wild flowers is disapproved of and often illegal. But now Plant Life has upset many people by recommending children should be encouraged to pick flowers to develop an interest in nature.
Bee keepers think the flowers should be left for the bees! Farming is certainly the main reason for the loss of wild flowers, but now they have become so rare perhaps picking will be the final straw. The Chinese have a proverb: “Drawing flowers indoors is not as good as being on a horse and looking at flowers outdoors; sitting on a horse and looking at flowers is not as good as getting down from the horse and planting flowers,” (Horses in Our Life). What do you think?