Extinction is a threat to countless species on our planet. Climate change is making survival difficult for animals and insects (we've all heard about the need to help bees) – and even, as it turns out, flowers.
The conservation charity Plantlife has teamed up with car manufacturer Renault to highlight the threat of extinction as a direct result of air pollution to a huge proportion of British flowers – one in five, in fact, are under threat. The culmination of the collaboration is a stunning flower installation by the award-winning floral designer Larry Walshe. And what an inspiration for wildlife garden ideas everywhere it is.
The intricate cascade of over 2,500 flowers has been mounted on top of a Renault Zoe, the company's flagship electric vehicle. The installation includes flower species most at risk from pollution-induced extinction such as gentiana, gladioli, dahlias, and the All 4 Love Rose, which is the world’s most endangered rose.
Road verges are particularly at risk from pollution, but they are also one of the richest wildflower habitats in the UK, home to over 700 species of wildflower – nearly 45 per cent of our total flora – including 29 of 52 species of wild British orchids.
The installation highlights the positive impact of switching to electric cars, as well as the sheer variety of flowers we stand to lose.
Larry Walshe, award-winning florist, said of the project: 'I wanted to create an installation that celebrated the natural wonder of beloved and at-risk flora. Bold, beautiful and provocative, the piece challenges people to think about their own impact on the environment and make positive changes to help protect and conserve our native flowers.'
Of course, every gardener can help by learning how to plant a wildflower meadow in their garden, but that's only part of the solution. Wildflower meadows are in serious decline in the UK, with 97 per cent having disappeared since the 1930s.
Switching to an electric car is not a panacea, as there are many factors involved in the decline of wildflowers, but it certainly is a start. Ian Dunn, CEO of Plantlife, said that 'cleaner cars delivered at pace offer fresh hope to wild plants that have been force-fed a junk diet of fossil fuel fumes for decades. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than on road verges, where air pollution from vehicles combined with poor management has seen floral diversity plummet by 20 per cent as vigorous species such as nettles that can tolerate polluted soils have outcompeted more delicate wildflowers like harebell.'
If you needed another reason to go electric, this is a very good one.
Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.
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