Indigenous wildflowers are vital to the ecology of an area, not just for their attractive appearance, but because they are host plants to many species of butterfly and moth. It is not easy to give over all or part of your garden to their cultivation though, as you will often see recommended. There is much more to growing wildflowers than scattering a few packets of seed or allowing the weeds to grow in your lawn. Particular wildflowers occur in a certain locality because growing conditions are just right for them – the right soil, right light, right control of neighbouring plants by other flora and animal wildlife. In a garden situation, unless these conditions are reproduced fairly accurately, they frequently struggle to survive, looking unsightly and providing little habitat for butterflies and beneficial insects. A wildlife garden, although not impossible to establish both aesthetically and functionally, is not an easy option for the lazy gardener, often under the impression that for ‘wild’ read ‘neglected’. It is, in fact, far harder to achieve successfully than a conventional garden, and requires a great deal of study and understanding of why a specific habitat occurs naturally before ever the first native plant is introduced.
Preservation of trees. Britain has suffered very much in the past from the indiscriminate felling of mature trees. Today, having largely seen the error of its ways, it is in danger of suffering from not felling enough.
It is an excellent thing that in the United Kingdom many specimen trees and built-up areas containing mature trees are now protected by Tree Preservation Orders, making it illegal to fell or otherwise interfere with a tree so as to affect its appearance or its chance of survival. However, certain elements of the ‘green movement’ are tending to become carried away with the preservation of every dying stump or self-sown sapling at all costs, resulting in many suburban areas becoming overgrown with badly sited large trees to the extent that the quality of life of both residents and gardens can be affected.
Many planning authorities go to great lengths to preserve unsuitable trees, often past their best, in unsuitable situations when freely granting planning permission for the land on which they are growing, so the development is forever affected by having to take account of these trees. Far better, if in their wisdom these planning gurus feel building development is the best use for the land in question, to encourage a scheme in which young, appropriate trees and new houses are planned together to mature alongside each other to overall good effect in years to come. Trees are not immortal, they grow old as the rest of us do, and it is not necessarily a sin to make way for the young.