This year, in contrast to previous years, we did not use weedkillers on our wildflower garden.
In the early days, just after we had cleared the site from decades of overgrowth, we were advised to use weedkillers because if we didn’t the wildflower seeds could not compete with the weeds. We complied with these instructions for five years, including last year.
But, for environmental reasons, we decided that this year that we would not do so. We know that herbicides, pesticides and insecticides have had a detrimental effect on wild insects, especially bees, and we did not want to use weedkillers that could contain some of these harmful chemicals.
At the start of the season we rotavated the plot and cleared last year’s debris then, when the weather turned warmer, we planted our wildflower seeds.
The little green shoots soon started to appear and we had high hopes. But as the plants grew we realised that they were mostly weeds and we began to question our decision. However, we left the garden to its own devices while cold, wet June and July passed.
And now, to our delight, the garden is blooming again and is alive with butterflies and bees. True, some of the blooms are weeds – but the insects don’t care. Borage, dandelions and the like are very attractive to these creatures and these weeds sit happily alongside our more exotic wildflowers while the insects flutter and hover. And we know that there are no harmful chemicals in the plants to damage the insects.
This year has been a very useful exercise to test our environmental credentials. We hope to continue with this idea into next year. Each year is something of an experiment; every year we learn new things.
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