Villages, Farms and Countryside

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Episode 1 of 3

Duration: 1 hour

Writer, broadcaster and gardener Sarah Raven is on a mission to halt the rapid decline in Britain's essential bees, butterflies and pollinating insects by bringing flower power to towns, cities and the countryside.

The world's bees and other pollinating insects are in crisis. It is a complex problem that scientists the world over are trying to fathom, but the prognosis is grim - without healthy populations of insect pollinators across the world, our future food security is under threat.

Sarah Raven takes her mission out into the Great British countryside to encourage farmers and village communities to help recreate a network of crucial habitats for struggling bees, butterflies and pollinating insects.

With the loss of Britain's wildflower meadows and grasslands estimated at around 98 per cent, Sarah finds out whether we have simply lost our connection with the wildflowers and habitats that were once so common and supported our pollinators.

Sarah starts by attempting to change the attitude of just one small Northamptonshire village. Today tidiness rules and the village green is a close mown carpet of green. Will the village take to her plans and embrace wildflowers, or will tidiness prevail?

Sarah also meets the Farringtons - a Northamptonshire farming family spanning three generations. Duncan, who now runs the farm, investigates sowing perennial wildflower borders around his crops to increase habitats for insect pollinators and possibly to increase crop yields.

And at home, Sarah visits wildflower meadows and harvests wildflower seed in order to develop her own wildflower meadow, something everyone can do in their own community or at home.

  • Sarah Raven’s colourful & pollinator-friendly flower bed recipe

    Verbena bonariensis
    Single dahlia varieties - Dahlia ‘Bishops children’ (can be grown from seed so inexpensive) plus single varieties such as Dahlia ‘Juliet’, Bishop of Auckland’, ‘Roxy’, ‘Rosamund’, ‘Twinings After Eight’, ‘Scoura’, ‘Magenta Star’
    Cosmos ‘Antiquity’ (good because shorter and doesn’t need staking) & ‘Dazzler’ (brighter colours but bit taller)
    Zinnia – single types best + ‘Sprite mix’, ‘Giant Cactus Mix’, ‘Envy’ (these may need a dose of Bordeaux Mixture to do their absolute best)
    Runner Bean ‘Painted Lady’, ‘White Lady’ & ‘Polestar’ plus Borlotti Bean (pods look great)
    Calendula 'Indian Prince' (may need Bordeaux mixture spray once or twice to keep it free of mildew right through the summer)
    Echium vulgare (pref sown this year for next as a biennial)
    Antirrhinum 'Liberty Classic Crimson' and ‘Night & Day’
    Scabiosa ‘Tall Mix’
    Nasturtium 'Alaska' and ‘Tip Top Mahogany’
    Tagetes ‘Cinnabar’
    Salvia patens
    Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower) ‘Blue Boy’ and ‘Black Ball’
    Rudbekia 'Prairie Sun' and ‘Cappucino’
    Monarda ‘On Parade’
    Angelica gigas (Big burgundy dot plant – brilliant for bees)

Credits

Presenter
Sarah Raven
Presenter
Sarah Raven
Producer
Andy Vernon
Producer
Andy Vernon
Director
Andy Vernon
Director
Andy Vernon
Executive Producer
Sarah Moors
Executive Producer
Sarah Moors

Broadcasts

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