The hot prolonged spell of weather during Spring/Summer 2022 was a testing time for our native wildflower meadows. The high temperatures pushed the wildflowers rapidly through growth stages with, plants setting seed weeks earlier than they traditionally would do. Giving your meadow a early cut late February early March, followed by a high cut late May early June will in turn promote a second flush of growth and extend the flowering period of the wild flowers .
Climate change is having a big impact on our environment, this in turn could lead to a greater chance of phenological mismatch. This occurs when interacting species change the timing of regularly repeated phases of their life cycles at different rates.
Some species of Bee will in turn only feed from certain species of flower. Such phenological shifts would reduce the floral available to pollinators. The effect of which would be exacerbated in species with narrow dietary preferences.
The curtailment of the foraging season through the earlier maturing flora will be a significant problem for Bee species which forage on late season flowering plants.
Climate change is widely expected to drive some species to extinction by reducing the amount and accessibility of suitable habitat.
The impact of climate change upon the range, abundance and seasonal activity of some wild pollinator species has already been observed. By the end of September 2022, the native wildflower meadow had completed its natural cycle. Bees where still foraging in great numbers on flowers in the prairie meadow which was still in full bloom.
Prairie meadows flowers which contain species like Cone flower, Rudbekia, Agastache and Tickseed are late flowering and great for pollinators. The flower heads can be left to seed as they are a great source of food for birds through the winter months. Maintenance of the meadow takes place in the spring when the dead growth is cut down and can be left as a mulch. It is also the ideal time to remove any perrenial weeds.
To see prairie flowers standing alongside our native wildflowers may well not be to everyone’s taste, but in order to aid the survival of some pollinators we may be left with no choice.