My regular readers will know that I enjoy being in the outdoors and also anything to do with nature. In particular I like to try and see and identify the birds I see whilst walking, consequently I never go out without my binoculars. Last year, for various reasons, I had an unusual amount of spare time on my hands and partook in several guided walks in my local area. Some of these were specifically for bird watching, but by way of a change I decided to go on some wildflower walks, an area in which I had not taken a lot of notice of previously.

During my summer walks I have always stopped to admire a field full of colourful flowers but had never bothered to find out their names or their life-cycles. I can pinpoint the day though when I decided that I should be ignorant no longer. On one of my regular walks through the golf course (great havens for all sorts of wildlife), I came across an area that the groundsmen had allowed to grow wild. It was a blaze of reds and yellows which was further enhanced by the light on that beautiful summer afternoon. The icing on the cake was the flock of goldfinches that were feeding on the red seed heads, their plumage exactly mirroring the colours all around them. I kicked myself for not having taken my camera and missing out on such a wonderful photo opportunity.

In Britain we have National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, the organisations that oversee these bodies organise festivals with wildflower walks to highlight the work they do and to educate members of the public. These walks are generally led by experts in the field who are very knowledgeable, with help from the keen amateurs almost every grass, sedge or flower is pointed out and identified for the benefit of the learners in the party.

Having completed a few of the walks I found myself becoming fascinated with the variety of plants that I would normally unwittingly trample over. I discovered the beautiful purple of self-heal which apparently can be quite invasive on manicured lawns and is therefore a scourge of the gardener. The tiny flowers of the variety of plants in the bedstraw family began to become familiar. Some species can only be identified by looking for minute features on the leaves or flowers through a magnifying field lens, now my summer walks mean I have one of these around my neck along with the binoculars!

I also found out about how meadows are being managed carefully to bring about a change to the dwindling wildflower population. Farmers are actually being given incentives to manage their fields in a particular way to encourage wild flowers to grow. Wild flowers do not do well in well-fertilized ground as they have to compete with the vigorous grasses that thrive in such a medium. What is required for a happy balance is light muck-spreading, mowing only after the plants have set seed and limiting grazing livestock, these also help by pushing the seeds into the earth with their feet. I also learned how to survey a field but that’s another story, I’m really looking forward to this spring and summer.

The author is a driector at My Outdoor Store

The premier walking and hiking outdoor gear store.

Author's Bio: 

Bruno Blackstone is a freelance writer interested in all things to do with the outdoors and helping others get the most from the outdoors. Starting with a psychology degree his early career was as a social worker and family therapist working with families to help them achieve more positive and stable relationships. In his more recent career he has coached many senior executives in both small and large organisations in areas such as strategy, human resources, organisational design and performance improvement. He now continues his work in the business world but he is also co-owner of My Outdoor Store a price comparison site for outdoor enthusiasts.