Plant Life

Baroness Valentine

Last Bank Holiday weekend we walked down the Wye Valley Way. Many of the fields through which we passed were just wet grass, soaking through our boots. Occasionally, though, we came to a meadow full of wild flowers – buttercups, red clover, daisies, and other species that I could not name, but they all lifted the spirits in a way that the plain grass could not. Alas 97% of these wild flower meadows have disappeared from Britain in the last 50 years thanks to intensive farming, herbicides, excessive fertilisation and inconsiderate land management.

On the higher ground the bluebells were still at their best – English bluebells, with their deep colour, delicate dangling heads and heavenly scent. In most things I am a keen supporter of Europe, but not of Spanish bluebells which hybridise with our native flowers, turning them pale, upright, and scentless.


Along the Wye after Bredwardine we passed through the Bulmers cider orchards – many attractive varieties of apple trees, even if their lines were regimented. Sadly, all the grass beneath them was mowed short, any wildflowers banished to distant field edges. We saw beehives perched on industrial-looking pallets, brought in we assumed to do the work of pollinating the apple blossom because there was not enough habitat left for local bees.

An organisation called Plantlife is working to put these things right and save Britain’s wild flowers and their habitats. They run an annual campaign, fronted this year by Alan Titchmarsh, to encourage councils to cut road verges only once the flowers have set seed. Last year, with the Prince of Wales they launched Coronation Meadows, an initiative to identify a pristine wild flower meadow in every county, and use green hay from each to restore a similar habitat nearby. This year, with Heritage Lottery funding, they are leading a major habitat restoration project with other wildlife organisations called Save Our Magnificent Meadows.

I am proud to be sponsoring a celebration of Plantlife’s 25th Anniversary in the House of Lords in October. Please visit and give your support to this important cause.

4 comments for “Plant Life

  1. MilesJSD
    11/07/2014 at 6:00 pm

    “Please visit plantlife and give your support to this important cause”

    presumably the cause is
    “working to put right”:
    (i) plant species
    that some of our UK Democratic Upper House’s expert-membership could not name;
    (ii) 50 years of British inconsiderate land-management;
    (iii) Spanish-bluebells’ invasivenes, turning our English-bluebells pale, upright, and scentless;
    (iv) the regimented lines of apple trees, the sadly short-mown grass beneath them, and the loss of local bees.

    Comment might include:
    (i) since this local ’cause’ is a part of the Great Underpinning Worldwide Lifesupportive Cause,
    namely that without the plant-kingdom there would be no animal life on this planet Earth;

    and that this greater Plant Kingdom is itself under Human industrial-civilisation, & population ‘growth’, runaway-process of Extinction and Destruction.

    (i) our Governing House of Expertise Membership should include a prerequisite not only of knowing the Plant Kingdom’s Members by name but knowing what each is ‘good for’.

    (ii) add in the “blindly-runaway destruction of Plant Kingdom land by Housing and Industrial-Estate aggression” and “premature taking-up of all of Earth’s good horticultural and agricultural lands”.

    (iv) husbanded areas of food-producing plants, including apple orchards, need to be rationally-spaced for water and nutrients;
    bees need to be nurtured and protected.

    An instance of unscrutinised ‘blind planning’ comes from USA where more than 60,000 prime Almond trees are having to be bulldozed to make room for more water-cum-nutrient-efficient crops.;
    Nonetheless I do join with others in wholeheartedly, and as practically as possible, supporting our basic Lifesupport upon this Earth, the Plant Kingdom.

  2. P.Selvaratnam
    15/07/2014 at 7:54 am

    I diligently followed: Please visit to give my support to this important cause to find: The domain is for sale.

    I’m dying to help after reading this piece with beautiful picture of meadows. I am a nature-lover and I’m unable to help the wildlife in the land I fled in the70s: Sri Lanka. I come from the North which is put under army boots now. There is not only political, economic, social, cultural and psychological degradation but lso environmental degradation. Oppression = unsustainable ”development”.

  3. maude elwes
    15/07/2014 at 11:59 am

    did you know the British government are secretly colluding with the US GM lobby to promote their products here in the UK? Against the will of the people. And if you didn’t know that, why not?

    Additionally we have to wonder, if you did know what was going on, why didn’t you add it to this posts?

    • P.Selvaratnam
      16/07/2014 at 8:44 am

      Monsanto or whatever – Bottomline – we need to increase the knowledgeof the ordinary citizens to choose/challenge the right policy-makers.

      90% od the quality of education depends on the quality of the teachers(I was a teacher) and in the last 2/3 decades British govt ministers have been trying to change the authority, names and buildings of schools!

      Why don’t they get the advice of educationsists & education researchers & eduction professionals? Most of them would say: improve the quality of teacher training. Other things may be left alone to the schools and the councils.

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