British Wildflower Seeds sells packets of seeds either harvested from wildflower meadows or mixes put together from individual species. The seeds are the most recent available and cleaned up before packaging, so they don’t include chaff or creepy crawlies! The “direct harvested” seeds are taken from meadows around the country, often ancient, and typically include a high proportion of flowers to grasses. The standard mix for grasses:flowers in commercial mixes is 80:20 or even 90:10, whereas our direct harvest mixes are often as high as 50:50, often with an enormous variety of species represented. This means that they’re not just ecologically sound but also attractive, and offer great value for money.
“Wildflower seeds” are routinely mis-sold in the UK. It’s likely that the majority of “wildflower seeds” you’ll find online or at seed merchants are actually imported or agricultural cultivars, with limited value for wildlife (they look odd too, and live less long). Worse, many “wildflower” seed mixes sold at garden centres include – sometimes exclusively – flowers which are “wild” in foreign and exotic climes. These mixes have their place, of course, and they can be excellent for bees, for example, but we think it’s important that consumers understand what they are.
We think using plants indigenous to the UK is important for two reasons. Firstly, because people are forgetting what their native flora actually looks like, and forgetting its wonderful and diverse aesthetic appeal. Secondly, these plants are the basic building block for a diverse and fascinating ecosystem. I’m always amazed how quickly animals move in to newly established meadow areas, and at the growing variety that you can attract. This is one of the reasons we include grasses in all of our mixes; British meadow grasses not only look lovely but provide the habitat many animals need.
It’s important to try to use not just UK sourced seed, but if possible local seed mixes. These are likely to be more successful, more distinctive and diverse, and look more appropriate to the local landscape. They will be more helpful to local fauna, and also help preserve local genetic variations. It will come as no surprise to hear that the folk who produce these mixes aren’t large seed merchants or agricultural companies; British Wildflower Seed uses small, dedicated and knowledgeable suppliers who deserve our encouragement and support.