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OPINION: Wildflowers aren’t dangerous invaders from outer space like many fear on Twitter

Local blogger Howard Usher doesn't agree with Gedling Borough Council's use of weedkiller...

I love wildflowers, herbs, trees and meadows in a natural setting, or created in gardens, but it appears I’m in a minority.

It seems most people view wildflowers as ugly weeds that will take over the world, and in the case of one individual on Twitter, that they will release ‘spores’ and start moving.

Even at the bastion of stuffy old-fashioned middle-class gardening, the Chelsea Flower Show, several people on television have mentioned the beauty of wildflowers, natural looking gardens and that, heaven forbid, weeds may not be all that bad after all!

Worryingly, these natural looks and using plants that have not had the ability to self-seed bred out of them are seen by the presenters as this year’s “trend and style”. Don’t worry, next year we can go back to fertilisers, weedkillers and bonkers hybrids! 

Unfortunately things are not helped when the leader of our local Gedling Borough Council berates Nottinghamshire County Council for not blasting all weeds with chemicals. It’s as if they are dangerous invaders from outer space.  Hey, let’s just destroy all greenery and flowers unless someone has actually bought them from an expensive garden centre and planted them!

https://twitter.com/GedlingLeader/status/1129822103220510720

Of course, there is a multi-million pound gardening industry built on trying to grow plants in the wrong place, urge you to destroy others with weedkillers and sell you endless landfill-bound products you don’t really need to garden.

There is no excuse for councils setting a bad example by bowing to pressure from a few, overly fussy individuals.

There’s a lot of stuff on Twitter about less mowing and not using weedkillers. I use a manual lawnmower to mow around patches of wildflowers in my lawn, but most people get out an electric or petrol mower and try to produce a bowling green on their patch. I could do more – we all could – but I imagine the neighbours would then complain!

However, there is no excuse for councils setting a bad example by bowing to pressure from a few, overly fussy individuals. So maybe we all should start complaining to the council when we see a mower before the autumn on public land, other than picnic or sports areas.

I find it hard to believe that these people have not seen any press or television concerning the severe environmental problems we face. The council would also save money too.

Another concern is the use of weedkillers on public spaces such as parks and schools where children play. I have seen it with my own eyes: spraying weedkillers just before the children come out to play. Weedkillers should not be used unless to control invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed.

As part of the whole issue of climate emergency and loss of wildlife, it would seem an easy win to green up our urban environment, towns and public spaces with wildflower meadow verges and gardens, not mention hedgerows, orchards and trees. I don’t mean expensive bureaucratic schemes such as inert living walls run by private companies making lots of money either.

Unfortunately, near me trees are going to felled, affecting the local nature reserve in order to build 400 new houses.

I don’t have the answers, but doing something different in our own gardens may help change perceptions over time.

You can read Howard’s blogs here: https://botanicalli.blogspot.com/

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