By Millie Hurst
Millions of us turned to gardening as a form of solace during an uncertain year, growing our own vegetables and planting up pots as a way to get outside.
Over lockdown, we had plenty of time to come up with wildlife garden ideas that look great and support the environment, including growing a lovely wildflower patch. But a huge increase in demand for seeds has unfortunately contributed to a shortage, along with climate change.
According to a UK-based wildflower seed company called Seedball, orders are still coming in thick and fast. Lots of budding gardeners ordering seeds for the first time – coupled with last autumn's poor harvest – has resulted in a nationwide shortage.
'Unfortunately, the harvest did not produce enough seeds to meet the demand, following the unusually hot spring in 2020,' comments Seedball Co-founder & Director, Dr Emily Attlee.
'With increasingly variable and extreme weather patterns being recorded, and dire climate change reports, there may be further seed shortages on the horizon.'
She highlights that heatwaves and record temperatures will negatively affect wildflower growth. So climate change has a huge knock-on effect on local environments and habitats by limiting the number of wildflowers and wildflower seeds for the future.
Seedball also reveals that large landscaping projects that require seeds have now started up again, after being delayed during the pandemic. Personal and commercial demand has therefore put a significant strain on resources.
In the US, seed companies have seen an enormous increase in orders, too. The owner of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield, Missouri, tells the BBC that the whole seed industry hadn't seen anything like the demand back in March 2020 since the Great Depression.
The shortage comes as Monty Don warns of a plant shortage too, encouraging his fans to stock up on spring bulbs early, planning spring garden ideas well in advance. 'Most plants are in short supply at the moment through a combination of the effects of the pandemic and Brexit,' he writes on his blog.
'So it is a good idea to order your spring-flowering bulbs in good time, so they can be planted in September or October (although tulips should not be planted until November),' says Monty.
It's brilliant to see this new enthusiasm for gardening and interest in learning how to plant a wildflower meadow. But extreme weather due to climate change, plus Brexit, has meant supply simply hasn't been able to meet demand.
Millie joined Gardeningetc in January 2021 as a news writer. When she isn't writing about gardening, she's tending to her small front garden. Her geraniums, dahlias and nasturtiums are looking lovely right now. She recently bought a bench for the garden and is loving alfresco lunch breaks and taking time to notice seedlings growing. She loves picking up some new plants at the local garden centre and is never without some fresh flowers at home.
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