Saturday, 15 June 2019

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

I walk Cupar the Collie along the same local roads every day, so am very aware of the growth of new vegetation on the roadside verges every spring. In 2016, I wrote a post in this blog, in which I commented that there seemed to be fewer wild flowers than usual. This year - there are hardly any.

When we first lived at Roskhill - some 10 years ago -  it was a delight to see the masses of white, yellow and purple wild flowers that flourished everywhere one looked. Today, while the grasses are as lush as ever, some of the formerly familiar flowers are absent altogether, and only bluebells (now dying back) and foxgloves (just opening) seem to be doing as well as ever. But the masses of ox-eye daisies have gone, as have the carpets of birds foot trefoil - with just a few small scattered patches of these flowers. I am yet to spot a spear thistle, white clover or a common spotted orchid, and while there are a few marsh orchids - they are a fraction of the size they used to be.

So, what has happened? I am no scientist - just an observer - but as we notice a reduction in wild flowers, so have we noticed a reduction in flying insects, and I presume the insects pollinate the flowers. So, no insects = no flowers. We are not killing insects here as the result of crop spraying or intensive farming. This surely has to be an effect of global warming.

Some reports say we have 15 years to reverse the effects of climate change. I say, we are already far too late. I was forecasting the end of the planet more than 50 years ago. My decision to never father any children was because of my vision of the future. I never expected to see the end happen so suddenly, and almost within my own lifetime.

Of course - the planet itself will survive. Indeed, once the human race is out of the way, nature will recover very capably. However, man's interference - by exterminating many species, genetically altering others, and relocating plants and animals to places they should never have been, will leave a planet-wide legacy that will be a change for ever.

Homo Sapiens is supposed to be an intelligent race. How wrong we are.

Common Spotted Orchid, Roskhill roadside, 2014
None here, 2019


Fitch said...

Sad to read about the lack of wild flowers and insects. I live a bit further south than you - about 2000 kms, in N Portugal - and we have been experiencing exactly the same phenomenon. The other week we had to drive to Lisbon, a 700 km round trip, over the course of a weekend and it was hot, so normally we would have expected to clear the windscreen of dead insects two or three times during the journey. But no. Not once. Even when we got back, the windscreen was barely spattered. Wild flowers? Far less than last year, which was less than the year before. We're in deep trouble.

By the way, we shall be in Skye in September. I want to explore how we might plant a few trees (a memorial thing). Any suggestions?

Richard Dorrell said...

Thank you for your sad comment. The human race doesn't have much longer, but the planet will live-on.

I'm not sure about planting trees on Skye. You might like to get in touch with the John Muir Trust, and ask if they have any land here where they would welcome some planting.

Another thought is to contact Magnus Burd - he is a Skye-based tree surgeon, much into conservation, and I know he also plants trees. His email is

Best wishes, Richard

Fitch said...

We have also noted that, this year, almost no swallows are in our village. Obviously, the lack of insects is partly to blame. Other summer visitors have come - and gone already; the serins and hoopoes hardly stayed for a weekend. We manage a little woodland and we always keep it as natural as possible (in spite of the draconian but necessary anti-fire laws) and as a consequence we make sure that many wild flowers bloom and, as a result, there are plentiful bees and other insects. But we are a rarity and most cut back the growth in spring, before blooming. It's a disaster and our small contribution simply highlights the catastrophe going on around us. As you say, the human race is playing out its end game.

Thank you for the info about tree planting. I shall follow this up.

Fitch O'C