Botanists turn to graffiti to educate public on wildflowers

This article originally featured in The Skylark’s newsletter and was written as a condensed news in brief.

A grassroots campaign to bring people closer to wildflowers in their area has made its way to the UK. Botanists across the UK have taken to the streets with chalk, naming the curious and often unnoticed flowers that dot the pavements, roads and footpaths. The chalking up – and sharing of images – has gone viral, helping people learn and feel closer to the nature around them.

Originating from France, the habit is now taking root in the UK after the campaign “Sauvages de ma rue” (wild things of my street) caught global attention. People who have noticed the chalk writing have said it has changed their view of weeds and wildflowers, and brought them closer to nature. Having banned pesticides in parks, streets and public spaces in 2019, wildflowers have bloomed across France.

In the UK, writing on public pavements is illegal – even in chalk. But French botanist and campaigner Sophie Leguil has been given permission by Hackney council to chalk up the pavement with plant names and trails to educate local residents. With only 6% of 16-24 year olds able to identify a wild violet, but 70% wanting to be able to identify more wild flowers, it is hoped other councils will take stock and help spread knowledge of these beautiful and overlooked flowers.

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