Sunderland goes wild for first National Gardening Week
RHS Wild Flower Meadow
Sunderland will be playing its part in the planting of over 280 square metres of wildflower meadow to be sown in Tyne and Wear this weekend, 14 to15 April.
The event marks the launch of the UK's biggest environmental campaign, RHS Britain in Bloom 2012. A fitting start to the first National Gardening Week, 16 to 22 April, in an initiative that will help replenish some of the 97% of wildflower meadows lost since 1930.
Groups and schools in Newcastle, Sunderland, Houghton, Tynemouth, Whitley Bay and Jarrow are among 1,200 across the UK, who will be sowing some of the millions of wildflower seeds provided by the RHS, over a 48 hour period. The RHS wants to encourage everyone to join in - and they can by typing their postcode into a map at RHS Community Gardening.
'Wild about Wildflowers' is a nationwide celebration of Britain's unsung heroes: more than 200,000 community volunteers throughout the UK who clean up and green-up around 30,000 acres of public space (equivalent to more than 86 Hyde Parks) for the benefit of us all.
UK wildflower populations are in serious decline. Between 1930 and 1980, 97% of wildflower meadows were lost across England and Wales. Pressures from agriculture and development, together with neglect, continue to impact on the remaining areas. The effect this is having on our ecosystem is significant.
Sarah Raven, who presented Bees, Butterflies and Blooms on BBC TV and has been passionate about wildflowers since she was a little girl, supports the initiative. 'We're in the process of rediscovering our love for wildflowers so Wild about Wildflowers, is fantastic. Because we have destroyed so much of their natural habitat, it is crucial we restore as many flowers as possible. Our insects have evolved to feed from them and as we destroy more meadows, insect populations will continue to diminish and this is disastrous for the planet.
'We need to love our planet for it to survive and what better way to do this than to engage with it in this way. I can't wait to see the gorgeous colour that will emerge all over the country over the summer.'
The recent wildflower renaissance has produced a surge in popularity of wildflowers. Since the first episode of Bees, Butterflies and Blooms, 272 insect-friendly wildflower packs have been bought from The Wisley Plant Centre at RHS Garden Wisley; during the same period in 2011, no packs were bought. Individual wildflower-seed packs sales are up 310% from last year. There are also plans to sow two new wildflower meadows at RHS Garden Wisley this year.
Once the wildflowers are in full bloom groups will be able to record the number of insects they see via an online bug survey created by the RHS in partnership with invertebrate conservation charity, Buglife.