As we approach late spring there is an abundance of wild flowers at their peak in the hedgerows and meadows.
At this time we can also enjoy their brilliance in our gardens and on our lawns.
An inspired initiative led by the charity Plantlife, shows us how we can enjoy these wild flowers on our doorsteps whilst also helping nature to thrive.
We can encourage butterflies, bees, birds and even our fruit and vegetables will benefit.
‘No Mow May’ encourages us to enjoy a break from cutting the grass, so allowing the small flowering plants in our lawn to flower.
These flowers produce nectar and pollen and can support a wide range of insects.
In turn the insects provide much needed food for many of our most loved birds, such as Swallows, Wrens, Blue Tits and Robins.
The pollination of these flowers takes place as a result of the insect’s feeding, so the flowers set seed providing more food for the seed eating birds.
There is quite an overlap in diet in many bird species so these bird lists are generalised, but seed eaters in our garden include Chaffinch, Dunnock, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.
It is the role that these insects have in pollinating our fruit trees and flowering vegetables like beans, that is so important to our food supply.
I have several apple trees in my garden and although I have not suffered from a lack of pollination yet, (the main problem with not getting any fruit setting is a late frost), on a sunny day when I look at the thousands of blossoms on my trees, I am only seeing a couple of insects on them at a time.
It is usually a generous looking bumblebee and the odd fly doing the pollination.
There are the occasional honey bees, but these are not as numerous as previously. Perhaps there might be some people that you know you could encourage to keep bees.
As you can see the interdependence of all wildlife, including the availability of food for ourselves, relies on a rich diversity of habitats and an abundance of food.
A lawn can attract and feed insects if left to flower.
If I was a nectar loving insect I wonder where I would find food.
The hedgerows are full of flowers at the moment, but many edge our roads where cars sweep by culling insects as they go and their exhaust fumes are pretty toxic.
There are few wild flowers left in the fields these days apart from the very few delightful wild flower meadows and, if our lawns are mown tight, it leaves very little habitat for our insects to find nectar.
If we have a lawn we can help encourage insects by not cutting it in May.
The photo of the red clover was taken on one of the verges in Sidmouth, which will not be cut for six weeks after the daffodils have flowered.
The six weeks allows time for flowering and setting seed of many species of wild flowers.
The nectar-rich flowers of red clover are a favourite of many species of bee, including the common carder bee, honeybee and red-tailed bumblebee.
You can see dandelion seed heads developing amongst the clover, dandelions can supply food to a number of different pollinators including bumblebees, butterflies, hover flies, day flying moths and solitary bees.
In fact the whole verge was awash with vast numbers of flowers and grasses, which was a delight and provided another important filling station for wildlife.
Have a look out for the best verges for wild life near you. Can you leave you lawn uncut for the month of May to see how you can help? In conjunction with No Mow May, Plant Life have a citizen Science project called ‘Every Flower Counts’ that gives you feedback on how you have helped, the link is: https://nomowmay.plantlife.org.uk/resources/resources-every-flower-counts.
I would also recommend ‘The Garden Jungle’ by Dave Goulson if you want an interesting and authoritative read about how gardens can help insects.