Flowers are vital to life on our planet. They provide pollen and nectar for insects which in turn pollinate fruit trees and other food plants. Without them our choice of food would be very limited indeed. They bring colour to desserts when the rain falls and grow in the most unexpected and inhospitable places. Flowers are amazing natural factories, using the chlorophyll in their leaves to capture the sun’s radiation and turn it into sugars and starches on which they feed. Their flowers can vary in size from almost too tiny to see, to a metre across. Some flowers have evolved relationships with particular insects or birds so they rely on each other to survive. There are hundreds of thousands of species of flowering plants and probably many more not yet discovered in unexplored jungles. Most people rarely think about flowers in this way because when we see them we are blown away by their colours, scents and intricate designs. What cheers us up more than a meadow full of colourful wild flowers buzzing with insects on a lovely sunny summer day.
Flowers play a major role in a wildlife garden. Apart from making them look colourful and adding fragrant odours, they are a lifeline for insects like bees and hoverflies which, as mentioned above, pollinate fruit trees and other necessary food plants. Gardening to help wildlife has become far more important in the last forty years as modern farming methods have led to the mass destruction of natural habitat in our countryside. Insect populations have declined on a massive scale including the very important honey bee which has been supplying humans with honey for over six thousand years.