When did you last walk through a field of wildflowers?
I’m searching through my memory bank and can only think of a handful of occasions that I personally have (and I’m a country gal), yet they’ve been around since neolithic times, so Sandro Cafolla of Design by Nature (www.wildflowers.ie) was explaining to us today.
From their origin to ground preparation, weeds, growing conditions, identification and the lack of support to growers, Sandro passionately shared some of his vast knowledge on growing crops of herbs and wildflowers to an interested group of us near Urlingford in Tipperary.
Sadly many native Irish wildflowers are now extinct or on the endangered list mostly as a result of weedkillers, farm machinery or heavy cropping. From corncockle to corn chamomile, wild cornflower and scarlet pimpernell – many of us will never see these flowers growing wild again.
So why did Sandro give up his time for free today, give away seeds (and even fork out for a port-a-loo in a field? It was in the hope that we would help to spread the word…
Irish Wildflowers are great!
They can be grown commercially in Ireland as an alternative to four legged ‘crops’ and are incredibly important for biodiversity, encouraging a vast range of insects and butterflies. They can be used around fields, on verges or banks, as alternatives to mown lawns or just as cash crops – and more of us could be growing them.
To grow wildflowers successfully however, involves more than just buying a packet of seeds and scattering them a few weeks later, but that’s not for here or now (if you’re looking for more information go check out Sandro’s website). His passion for growing native Irish wildflowers was infectious, carrying us inquisitively and happily throughout the day.
The following quote from their website explains why they feel it’s so important to grow Irish seeds:-
Our thoughts on imported ‘so called’ wildflowers: Retailers and online sellers are selling American, Chinese, or European flora claiming that they are wildflowers. These imports are not native Irish wildflowers and they are not suitable for nature conservation, they may not survive beyond the first year. Often these products are not even wildflowers from other countries instead they are cultivated flowers. You will end up paying for expensive packaging and cheap substitutes. If in doubt, ask the horticulture division of Bord Bia, or the Department of Agriculture, for a list of growers of wildflowers in Ireland (and not just sellers). Watch out for false claims with seed mixtures containing cultivated flowers posing as wildflowers. When you buy native sourced Irish species they flower at the same time as the wildlife that visits the plants, native flowers can survive your local climatic conditions. Your purchases supports jobs in Ireland.
Stacia bought the wine …
So after a day outside in good company, catching up for ‘real’ with social media friends Margaret from Old Farm , Stasia from Our Smallholding and Lilly from Smallholding Ireland, I’ll shortly be sitting relaxing with a mug of tea, planning where we can sow a few colourful Irish wildflowers of our own… and I’ll be wholeheartedly encouraging anyone I know to consider growing or stocking them too.