Wildlife in danger
It could be just me, but I cannot see them anywhere this
year. Is it just a bad year or are the wild foxgloves dying out? Normally there
are flowers all around Oak Meadow hedges, especially the one facing east. But
this year there is not one foxglove there. Also, come to think of it, I have
not been able to find any foxgloves as I drive the country lanes.
Are foxgloves endangered? How do we find out about wildflowers
and their conservation status? There is the RSPB for birds and the RSPCA for
animals but what about wildflowers? There does not seem to be a Royal Society
to protect them. There is Natural England and the corresponding groups for the
rest of the UK, with the Wildlife Trust but there does not seem to be a
specific Wildflower Trust.
The presence of wildflowers tells us a great deal about how
we are caring for the land. I went to Whixall Moss yesterday which is an
important peatland. There were lots of flowers and of course insects and birds.
I have not been out much, so I was nervous walking the canal path with other
people. I turned my back on them (never mind the new Country Code for now)
because of COVID, but no one seemed to mind, and some called out a cheery
‘hello, nice day’.
Going to Whixall Moss reminded me of how much we use peat in
our gardening especially in plant pots. It is such a good growing medium. We have
been peat free here at home, for some years, but it is difficult. Even the best
firms often include a percentage of peat in their potting compost. The
government says that we should stop using it by 2030, we were supposed to stop
using it by 2020 but we failed.
I think, perhaps, most of us simply do not know the damage
peat extraction causes. But going to the North Shropshire peatland, was a sobering
experience and convinced me that it must not be lost. I sat and watched as the
insects buzzed by my face and the birds called and the flowers dazzled in the
sun. I suddenly saw the brimstone butterfly, with its buttery-yellow wings. It
was the male and will not live long now that the female has laid her eggs. The
caterpillars will need to eat the leaves of alder buckthorn, which in turn
needs the wet acid soil in Whixall Moss.
The Butterfly Conservation group tells us that all is well
if you have lots of butterflies and moths in your garden. But here, at home, the
bumblebees will miss sweet nectar from the foxgloves.
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)
Not a good year for foxgloves?