Today’s Solutions: January 28, 2023

Conservation charity Plantlife is urging gardeners in the UK to “do nothing for nature” this month as part of their No Mow May campaign. This campaign is designed to let wildflowers grow unrestrained in people’s yards, to provide more food for pollinators.

Plantlife has even approached councils, asking them to leave public parks and road verges alone so that they too can grow wild in May. Plantlife’s road verge campaign manager, Dr. Kate Petty, says that seven out of the 10 councils have agreed to encourage wildflowers to grow on verges.

Near the end of the month, participants in the movement are invited to take part in the “Every Flower Counts” survey, which documents the number of flowers by species and pollen count and gives each garden a “nectar score” which will tell the owners how many bees they can feed.

Last year’s May was reported to be the driest since 1896, which lead to significant drops in the number of common spring flowers in gardens, as well as dandelions and daisies which declined by 56 percent and 40 percent respectively compared to 2019.

According to one of Plantlife’s botanical specialists, Dr. Trevor Dines, the “Every Flower Counts [survey] provides evidence for the first time that spring drought periods affect the timing and quantity of flower production on lawns, as early flowers wilt and summer species bloom earlier.”

This year the UK experienced an unusually dry April, which means their lawns are suffering from drought. According to Dr. Dines, the best thing to do in this case is to allow the remaining flowers in the soil to grow. He says, “If you want to have a drought-resistant lawn you want a good mix of native plants because they will often have deeper roots that go down further and can tap into scant water resources.”

Plantlife hopes that their campaign can offset the 97 percent of wildflower meadows lost in the UK since the 1930s. The area lost is more than 1.5 times the size of Wales, but if the 15 million gardens in Britain were permitted to rewild themselves, they could offer significant support for pollinators.

Other countries across Europe such as the Netherlands have also implemented surveys and programs to help monitor and support pollinators.

Even if you’re not in the UK, consider adopting the No Mow May movement to help your local pollinators thrive this season.

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