Wildflower Management

Neighbourhoods Green

Introduction

Housing providers are increasingly looking at ways to improve the environmental quality of their green spaces. Wildflower areas can really help to brighten up open spaces in neighbourhood areas and have been shown to have a positive impact on local people. They can be a useful temporary solution to sites awaiting development and if integrated into ongoing grounds maintenance can provide a cost-effective way of managing the landscape as well as providing important opportunities for wildlife.

This guide has been developed by the Royal Horticultural Society with the help of Buglife, Landlife and the Wildlife Trusts to assist housing providers and communities in the design and management of wildflower areas.

Why plant wildflowers?

In the UK, our wildflower populations are in decline: between the 1930s and 1980s, 97% of wildflower meadows were lost across England and Wales (Plantlife). Pressures from agriculture and development, together with neglect, continue to impact on the remaining areas.

The loss of wildflowers is having a knock-on effect on the rest of the food chain. Insect populations are in decline as they lose these traditional sources of food. Flowers provide them with a high-energy fuel in the form of nectar, with the added bonus of protein and oil-rich pollen grains. Day and night, flowers are visited by a steady stream of butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, bees and other insects.

Already in the UK we have seen dramatic reductions in bee populations over the last 60 years. When wildflowers are lost, so, in many cases, are the insects that feed upon them.

Insects are small and their plight can be all too easily ignored, but they are incredibly important to us. They pollinate our plants, control other pests and provide food for birds and other animals. By planting wildflowers, or establishing flower-rich grasslands and meadows, you can play a part in reversing this trend.

Just starting out? Try sowing a cornfield annual meadow.

How to find a suitable site

Outlines important considerations for choosing a spot for your wildflowers

How to sow

Simple steps to ensure you get the best display

How to maintain and develop the site

How to look after your site and develop it further

Species in an annual cornfield mix

Details what's included in a standard cornfield seed mix

Want to develop a more permanent wildflower area?

Creating perennial meadows

Plant selection and meadow creation

Perennial meadow management

Basic maintenance processes to ensure your meadow looks it's best

Perennial wildflower list

List of non-toxic flowers suitable for different soil types

Case Study

Knutsford in Bloom and Cheshire Peaks & Plains Housing Trust

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