Changing the world, one wildflower at a time By Hannah Kowszun, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew How many of us really know the difference between a weed and a flower? After all, a weed is simply a plant in the wrong place: essentially it’s something you’re not trying to grow. As Dr Ian Malcolm opines in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” And one of the best examples of life finding a way is a lone flower breaking through a pavement crevice. Often these flowers are UK native species, their seeds blown on the wind from wildflowers nearby. Native species are those that came here without human assistance, with most arriving between the end of the last ice age and the flooding of the English Channel 8,000 years ago. Archeophytes - ‘ancient plants’ - were brought here by humans, often introduced and finding a home amongst our crops. For example, the poppies and cornflowers (both wildflowers) that have been part of the farmed landscape here for centuries. Grow Wild - the outreach initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - uses wildflowers to introduce people who may never have sown seeds before to the joys of growing, pollinators and the vibrancy of nature. Wildflowers are easier to grow than many other plants and they’re perfect for spaces where the soil may not be in the best shape. Right now, Grow Wild is offering up the chance for groups of people to come together to transform a shared urban or unloved space using native UK wildflowers. Growing as a group is an excellent way to get out and get active, but also to learn about the basics of botany – potentially even igniting a lifelong interest in plants and horticulture! And transforming a neglected space into a beautiful wildflower haven can also create new habitats for pollinators, which perform a vital job continuing the life cycle of plants and crops. Among young people in particular, growing wildflowers brings new insight and understanding: “I learned that these flowers are not really weeds, unwanted stuff, not even the dandelions,” said one participant. “I need to shift my attitude, they have a purpose.” Applications for seed kits are open until the end of February. Find out more on the Grow Wild website. Grow Wild is supported by the Big Lottery Fund using National Lottery funding, and through private and public contributions.