I heard today discussion by wildlife experts on a plan, led by the Prince of Wales, to restore 60 “Coronation meadows” across the UK in an attempt to help our wildlflowers which have declined by 97% in the last 70 years. Eventually there will be 107, one in every county, including one
in the beautiful Elan Valley very close to where I live in Wales. It is a wonderful project which I support fully. Part of the intent is to use the meadows as donor sites, providing seeds for other local meadows, and it may be that I will be able to develop my own small meadow using seed from the main site.
As I listened to the talk on the new Coronation meadows, I learned something about my homeland of Wales which touched me deeply: Victoria Chester from Plantlife passionately and eloquently told us that in times gone by Welsh farms had a “cae ysbyty” or hospital field which was pasture filled with wildflowers where they would put their sheep or cattle when they were ill, for, of course, wildflowers have healing and medicinal properties which were well known to country people then and to herbalists now. How wonderful it must have looked in the Welsh countryside with the hills ablaze with the soft colours and beauty of our native plants, all supporting insect, animal and human life.
Will that time of harmony and understanding return, I wonder? While the Welsh hills are magnificent still, the fields now largely are overgrazed and often polluted by chemicals, and wildflower meadows too often are in designated reserves rather than growing naturally and abundantly as nature intended. I give heartfelt thanks to the efforts of the Prince of Wales and the many people in charities and wildlife trusts who give so much to protect what is so often forgotten, but which, like the meadows, is so very important.