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THERE'S nothing like unbroken [...].

Byline: dorinda mccann

THERE'S nothing like unbroken sunshine to see off the black dog and as I walked home last week alongside the stream I felt glad to be alive for the first time in a long while.

It was gloriously warm even at 10.30am and the stream banks were riot of colour - the frothy ivory lace of cow parsley; deep blush pink of campions and great willow herb - (also called by the old-fashioned name of codlins and cream - codlin was an apple) and Indian balsam; snow white splashes of bindweed and the sunshine yellow of ragwort.

The air was honey-scented by the long purple racemes of the many buddleias that grow along the river bank. Although their common name is butterfly bush there wasn't a single butterfly to be seen and though they were alive with bees, there was no other insects to be seen anywhere as I walked along.

I wondered what had happened to all the insects that were commonplace when we were growing up. I was very fond of taking a book to the fields when I was a youngster and one of the many places I loved was in the big field nearest the house which was knee deep in wild flowers and the drone of bees and insects was all around. In the spring it was full of cowslips and primroses, dame's violet and bistort, in summer, yarrow and ragwort and the hard purple heads of knapweed. The flowers were always covered in bugs and butterflies and beautiful black and red burnet moths; I haven't seen one in years.

Whenever we went on a car journey my dad would have to stop on the way to clear the insects that had built up on the windscreen and the number plate, now on a journey not a single one hits the windscreen which is very sad and is down to the way the environment has changed in the last 50 years.

Hayfields used to be full of wild flowers that attracted all sorts of insects and the hedgerows and ditches were full of them too. This in turn brought in birds and little mammals. Then came herbicides and pesticides and hedges were ploughed up to make way for the huge fields for growing food crops. It's all about greed and not giving a damn about anything but profit; the grant given to farmers for letting some of their fields grow wild is a good thing but it's too little too late.

It's up to every one of us to do our bit by growing plants that attract insects. I have a small clump of lemon balm in my garden which can be very invasive if not controlled but the bees absolutely love it. A clump of nettles will attract red admiral, peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies; and nasturtiums - such great little plants with their gorgeous flowers are irresistible to cabbage whites. It requires very little effort to attract creatures into our own little plot.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 9, 2011
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