Wildflower Meadows

Survivors From a Golden Age

Margaret Pilkington

Photographs by John Pilkington

Wildflower Meadows is a beautiful record of the meadows that survive and a practical guide to their preservation in the future to be enjoyed by all who appreciate and care for our countryside.

300 x 240 mm

216 pages


ISBN: 978-1-906506-26-1


Subjects: Nature, Sustainability

Hay meadows with their wonderful profusion of wildflowers and butterflies are disappearing from our countryside at an alarming rate. This book celebrates in words and photographs the meadows that remain tucked away in odd corners in every part of our country. Taking the most common type of meadow, Margaret Pilkington shows how, with the help of the National Vegetation Classification we can understand the unique collection of plants present and explains the Biodiversity Action Plan for wildflower meadows that it was hoped would ensure no further loss of this special, vulnerable habitat. She gives a clear, concise account of the challenges posed and the practical steps being taken to halt its decline, including the use of ecosystem services to highlight its value. Meadow flowers are adapted to survive and reproduce in grass-land that has been managed in a particular way for centuries. The voices of those who farmed in this way describe traditional hay making and the changes that have led to the loss of these meadows, a loss that has led to a huge decrease in the butterflies and other wildlife that depended on them for food and shelter. Margaret Pilkington explains the intimate connections between flowers and the insects that visit them, an explanation brought to life in John Pilkington’s close-up photographs.

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Margaret Pilkington

Margaret Pilkington has a Ph.D. from the University of Reading and taught part-time at Otago University and the Open University before becoming a full-time lecturer in continuing education at the University of Sussex. Her interest in meadows grew out of using the local countryside as a laboratory for teaching science and gained particular impetus with the publication of the National Vegetation Classification system in the 1990s. She particularly enjoys working in an interdisciplinary context combining oral history and historical land-use research with ecological survey to understand more about our natural heritage. She became Emeritus in 2006 and leads the University of Sussex River Ouse Project. Her previous book, Science in the Countryside, was published in 2005.

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"For those who have never visited one this is the next best thing to walking around a meadow and an inspiraton to see one"
UK Butterflies

"The quality of the text and the extraordinary photography by John Pilkington make these sections as compelling to the amateur naturalist as to the professional… A timely book and an utterly captivating one"
Lady Magazine

"Top book... recommend to anyone interested in the UK's wildlife"
Wildlife Extra