Abstract#wildflowerhour is an online community of hundreds of wild flower enthusiasts. The original concept was devised in 2015 by Isabel Hardman (@issybryonyh), who asked BSBI to help promote the idea. As #wildflowerhour grew in size and popularity, a small steering group was assembled, all of whom are BSBI members. Rebecca Wheeler, also a BSBI member, now leads #wildflowerhour and runs the social media accounts. Read Louise Marsh's interview with her here.
What is #wildflowerhour?
On Sunday evenings between 8.00-9.00 pm we post photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram of the wild or naturalised flowers we have found in bloom during the previous week, using the hashtag #wildflowerhour. We connect with other wild flower lovers, help each other with ID and take part in weekly challenges set by Rebecca Wheeler (@botany_beck) who also runs the @wildflower_hour social media accounts. Alongside Rebecca, BSBI Comms Officer Louise Marsh (@BSBIbotany) and BSBI members such as Leif Bersweden (@LeifBersweden), Josh Styles (@joshual951), Richard Bate (@thenewgalaxy), Brian Laney (@BrianLaney2), Moira O’Donnell (@nervousbotanist) and others, including #wildflowerhour founder Isabel Hardman (@issybryonyh), are on hand on Sunday evenings to offer encouragement and ID advice.
Who can take part?
Everyone! From complete beginner or casual observer, to experienced botanist, everyone is welcome to join the super friendly #wildflowerhour community. Hundreds of people take part each week. If particpants find a flower that they can’t identify, they just add in the hashtag #wildflowerID and another botanist or member of the #wildflowerhour community comes to their aid. The #wildflowerID hashtag can also be used during the week so people can find out in advance what their plant is and then post it with confidence on a Sunday evening.
Taking part in #wildflowerhour is a fantastic way for beginners to learn how to identify plants and start their botanical journey. The weekly challenges eg find a member of the deadnettle family, find a hairy plant, find an arable plant etc are a fun way to learn about plant families, characteristics and habitats. The more experienced botanists also enjoy sharing their finds and lending their expertise.
Why is #wildflowerhour so brilliant?
People tell us it is one of the highlights of their week! It encourages everyone to get outside looking for and identifying wild flowers, and is a hugely interactive, enjoyable and engaging gateway into botany. It has cured many people of their “plant blindness” and opened their eyes to the threats our wild flowers and their habitats face. People have told us how helpful they found #wildflowerhour and the weekly challenges during lockdown this year.
Some of our weekly challenges, which run from March to October are run in conjunction with other organisations and initiatives. For example this year at the beginning of March we teamed up with Nature’s Calendar for our #woodanemone challenge and in August with the British Society for Plant Pathology for our #wildplantdisease challenge. We also have challenges to tie in with things like International Bog Day, National Insect Week and National Meadows Day.
But things don’t stop when the weekly challenges stop! During the winter months we have the #thewinter10 challenge, which is to find and photograph 10 different plants in bloom every week. People really enjoy this challenge and take part with great enthusiasm! This winter we are also going to have some mini challenges.
Why is #wildflowerhour important?
It’s great fun but it’s also a very successful informal citizen science project. It is an enjoyable introduction to recording what’s in flower locally and gives BSBI a snapshot of what is in flower each week across Britain and Ireland. Many participants go on to join BSBI, Plantlife or the Wild Flower Society, and enrol on Identiplant or Field Studies Council courses, and it has encouraged many people to start recording with their local botanical society or group. One of the main aims of #wildflowerhour is to support and promote the work of BSBI, Plantlife and the Wildlife Trusts and we work closely with these organisations.
WHAT IS #WILDWEBSWEDNESDAY?
In August 2019 we introduced #wildwebswednesday (@webswild). Every week on a Wednesday people post their photographs on twitter which show wild and naturalised plants with their dependent organisms. This could be insects, fungi, lichen, galls or birds. This weekly celebration of the biodiversity that our wild flora supports has proved very popular with participants and helps to highlight the fact that plants are essential to all life on earth, and that they form the basis of almost all food chains. It is also a fun mid-week activity which helps encourage people to go out plant hunting.
what is #HERBOLOGYHUNT?
For junior wild flower enthusiasts we have produced some #herbologyhunt spotter sheets in association with The Wild Flower Society. There is one for every month of the year with five flowers to spot. You can find and download them on the Wild Flower Society website here. There is also a link to click on for every month to see some more photos and information about the different plants.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT #WILDFLOWERHOUR
#whyilovewildflowerhour … because it encourages me to get outside into the great outdoors each week and truly opens my eyes to the environment around me. The challenges in particular take me to new places and increase my knowledge of British flora. Great for both mind and spirit. @Venetiajane
#wildflowerhour drew me back into botany and teaches me in a friendly supportive way. It also shapes my walks and guides my eyes! @anneontheshelf
Find out more about #wildflowerhour here.