A blog by Gill Perkins, CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust
This is a picture of a wildflower meadow. Social and print media is increasingly full of glorious pictures of meadows – both annuals (the poppy and cornflower ones) and perennials. Many forward-thinking councils have stopped mowing the verges, and we are exhorted to ‘no mow May’! There is a definite trend to letting ‘nature take its course’ and that is epitomised by the rewilding movement, something that has grabbed the public’s consciousness. The trend for ‘neatness’ is diminishing, the trend for ‘wildness’ increasing.
There are lots of major trends impacting our organisations – the need to reach new audiences, the importance of digital connection to name a couple. Add to that the trend to reconnect with nature.
Trends are important they can allow organisations to peer into the minds of current and potential audiences, making organisations aware of challenges and opportunities.
Trends are very definitely about people and behaviour. They can help us understand how people make decisions in our noisy, connected world, as well as how demographics are changing, where people are directing their attention, making our offerings developed, promoted, and executed in a way that is relevant to them. It helps us to inspire them, or motivate them to come through our doors in the first place.
I hope this introduction partly explains my recent experience – back to that wildflower meadow. It is in fact a small patch of land behind the offices of Corney & Barrow near London Bridge – superhero supporters of the Trust and bumblebees.
This patch of land used to look like this:
A fairly ordinary patch of mown grass in London – not particularly good for any wildlife and definitely not for bees.
Over the months before the pandemic, C&B had been inspired to plant for pollinators and started to put in delicious lavender plants – and then Covid arrived.
Whilst the pandemic was particularly ghastly on so many fronts, it did allow nature to take its turn. Without mowing or gardening, this patch of land has become a haven for insects including bumblebees. On a visit last month, we saw three different species of bumblebee, as well as various other pollinators including hoverflies, honeybees and flies – the place was just buzzing with life. Around twenty different plant species had naturally sprung up, including wild strawberries. Corney & Barrow are even more superheroes in our eyes and BANG ON TREND. Whilst an initial glance may leave some thinking it is unsightly or unkept, there’s an intrinsic beauty in the sheer diversity of life here. It is simply a matter of viewing it from a different angle.
It is really important to understand the significance of species-rich grasslands. They are an immensely valuable, natural solution to climate change: the un-tilled soils of meadows and grasslands store around a third of all carbon in the Earth; floodplain meadows capture and hold back water, reducing flooding risk; meadows lock up pollutants and require minimal inputs of fertilisers and no pesticides – especially those in central London. Flower-rich grasslands are critical reservoirs for our pollinators including bumblebees, butterflies and moths. The next time you see a patch of ‘overgrown’ land, take a deeper look – perhaps you will notice it’s real beauty.
Huge congratulations to C&B – keep supporting the bees – here are some of the pictures we took on your amazing wildflower meadow.