My regular readers will know that I adore being in the outdoors and furthermore anything to do with the natural world. Especially I like to recognise the wildlife I come across whilst hiking, hence I rarely go out without my binoculars. Last year, for a variety of reasons, I had an exceptional amount of uncommitted time to myself and experienced a variety of guided rammbles in my local area. Some of which were specifically for bird watching, but by way of a different experience I decided to try out some wildflower walks, an area where I hadn’t taken a lot of interest in before.

On my summer walks I have frequently halted to admire a field filled with colourful flowers however had never bothered to learn their names or their life-cycles. I can remember the day however when I thought that I ought to be ignorant no longer. On one of my usual walks by way of the golf course (fantastic havens for all varieties of wildlife), I encountered an area that the staff had allowed to grow wild. It was a blaze of reds and yellows which was further complimented by the sunlight on that gorgeous summer time afternoon. The high point however was the flock of goldfinches that were feeding on the red seed heads, their colouring exactly mirroring the colours around them. I was sorry for not having taken my camera and missing such a great photographic opportunity.

In The British Isles we have National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, the bodies that are responsible for these put on festivals with wild flower strolls to emphasise the work they carry out and to educate folks. These trips are as a general rule led by experts in the field who are very educated, with assistance from the keen amateurs almost every grass, sedge or flower is spotted and identified for the benefit of the newcomers in the party. Having accomplished a variety of the walks I started being interested in the variety of plant types that I would generally unwittingly trample over.

I encountered the beautiful purple of self-heal that it appears can be quite invasive on manicured lawns and is as a result a scourge of the gardener. The compact flowers of the variety of plants in the bedstraw family began to become familiar. Some plants can only be identified by looking for minute features on the leaves or flowers through a magnifying field lens, now my summer time walks mean I have one of these around my neck along with the binoculars!

I also discovered how meadows are being farmed with care to trigger a change to the falling wildflower population. Land owners are quite literally being given incentives to take care of their fields in a particular way to encourage wild flowers to develop. Wild flowers tend not to do well in well-fertilized earth as they are forced to compete with the strong grasses that grow in such a medium. What is necessary for a happy balance is light muck-spreading, cutting only once the plants have dropped seed and restricting grazing cattle, these also assist by pushing the seeds into the earth with their feet. I in addition learned how to survey a meadow but that’s another story, I’m definitely looking forward to this spring and summer.

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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 a price comparison site for outdoor enthusiasts.