To shop, and school, to work and play,
The busy people pass all day;
They hurry, hurry, to and fro,
And hardly notice as they go
The wayside flowers, known so well,
Whose names so few of them can tell.
O, if these people understood
What’s to be found by field and wood;
What fairy secrets are made plain
By any footpath, road, or lane –
They’d go with open eyes, and look,
(As you will, when you’ve read this book)
And then at least they’d learn to see
How pretty common things can be!
– Song of the Wayside Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker
I love that scene when Bambi and his mother venture out from the forest to the clearing and, when it’s safe, he joyfully bursts out “the meadow!” He was so filled with wonder and excitement, checking out the grasses, flowers, the birds and the butterflies. Then there’s the scene of Thumper, about to chow down on a big pink ball of clover until his momma catches him and he has to recite what his father says about eating greens. It’s still my favorite movie.
When our daughter and I would put a bouquet together, we’d often look for the flowers, foliage and wild grasses that grew along the side of the road, a meadow or a vacant lot because, to us, they were just as pretty as the ones that grew in our garden and there was so much to choose from. We also loved to watch all the life that these natural places attracted, such as the bees, insects, dragonflies and butterflies – all of which depended on this important source of food and habitat.
A couple of years ago, I slowly started layering grass clippings and shredded leaves on a rough, unused sloped area behind the house with the plan to create my very own little meadow for the pollinators to feed on. After a year, I had enough of a soil base for good germination, so I collected both wild and domestic flower seeds throughout the year and then threw them all over the 20- by 30-foot space. Luckily, despite the lack of rain this year, I now have a lovely mini-meadow, full of buzzing insects and butterflies.
Because of the steady march of urbanization and development, we have lost so many of our wonderful natural spaces that these critters need for survival. We all know that the insect world is losing untold numbers of species every year and our bees in particular are in peril. They need lots of food from spring until fall, so we can do our bit by saving as many flower seeds as possible this fall, then go for a pleasant Sunday stroll and broadcast them along the rural roadsides, the vacant lots in town, ditches or anywhere else you think they’ll take hold. Just be careful not to throw seeds or dig in plants in areas that are designated natural places and avoid the invasive types as well, so they don’t take over the area.
Starting next year, plan on gathering seeds all through the summer season and into the fall and find more areas to throw them around. Before we know it, the Shuswap will be one big, bountiful wayside garden, helping to feed our hungry pollinators and adding even more beauty to this area we all call home.