Your roadside verges

All day I’ve read complaints on Twitter from people dismayed about their local roadside verges being mown to within an inch of their life, just as they are in full bloom with wild flowers and bluebells. So I decided to speak to my local District Council to ask them what their policy was. In some ways I was heartened as they actually do have some form of conservation policy across their green public spaces. Certain areas are zoned as ‘conservation areas’ and are mown only once or twice a year. However, I have yet to ascertain any details of what percentage this involves across the district and I’m not sure if any of these ‘conservation’ zones include roadside verges. As of yet I have been unable to speak to the right person in possession of the full details, but tomorrow’s another day.

Roadside verge Hogarth Roundabou,t Chiswick, West London. (Photo: Meadow Project)

So what can we do in the meantime? Well don’t despair as Plantlife have started a new campaign to protect our roadside verges. As part of the campaign they are gathering vital information across the country and have a created a simple way for us all to get involved and help. Best of all, it takes less than 5 minutes and what a fantastic use of 5 minutes.

Just visit the link below, add the details of a roadside verge that you want to protect, or that is particularly important to you, or perhaps you’d like to see improved. There’s a drop down menu for the relevant local council that the roadside verge comes under and you can add a few words about your reasons. Your personal details are not shared and I really hope that you help Plantlife to protect these wonderful natural roadside meadows. If our local councils across the country are made aware of the how so many of us treasure our flowering verges I’m certain the majority will change their policy to benefit our wild flowers.


8 responses

    • Thanks for the reblog, it’s so important to get this message out to the wider world. I’m currently contacting councils across the country to find out what their policy is.

      If people contact their councils and add details to the plantlife website it shows there is a public demand to stop cutting flower rich roadside verges.

      In the meantime please circulate this as much as possible because the more comments I get the more I can show the councils that the general public would prefer they stop wasting our limited resources on such a destructive act.

      In faireness, I think most of the time councils are just not aware of what they are doing and it’s effect on wildlife and unfortunately, they can also be criticised for not keeping areas tidy by the public too.

      So we need to ‘rebrand’ our verges as wildlife conservation areas and hopefully more people we see that our councils are contributing positively when they don’t mow these areas, and support them.

      Thanks for your support.
      Regards Michelle Storm, Meadow Project

  1. The question I have is why are the verges cut at all? It seems completely unnecesary and in most cases doesn’t seem to be justifiable on the grounds of safety. And it’s lovely to see the verges full of wild flowers. I will follow the link and make a contribution.

    • Hi Finn, I’m currently contacting councils across the country to ask the same questions and when I have some answers I’ll be sure to blog them!
      In the meantime please circulate this as much as possible because the more comments I get the more I can show the councils that the general public would prefer they stop wasting our limited resources on such a destructive act.

    • If there was no control – wouldn’t verges give in to bramble? Even a ‘wild’ meadow verge will need some sort of cut regime to prevent succession. Wild grasslands have natural limitations on succession – it could be abiotic conditions ie precipitation or soil, or disturbance such as herbivory or fire… A lot of our meadows we’re created by us, and have actually been lost because we stopped cutting them. ( i think floodplain meadows particularly – does that sound right? – just flame me if i’m all wrong )…. problems (in diversity) occur in cutting too low, or at the wrong time of year.

      • You’ve made some good points there Michael, I guess cutting to the right length and at the right times mimics the natural cycle of the herbivores and maintains the flora. Mind you, I don’t have a huge problem with bramble taking over some verge space, they provide food and shelter for all kinds of creatures and nest sites for dunnock, linnet and whitethroat, among others.

      • Hi Finn

        Funny isn’t it Nature seems to do just fine when we don’t involve ourselves. I guess in many ways the Meadow Project is just about that, trying to reduce the ‘management’ of our green areas that we seem to have become obsessed with. The way I see it, once we’ve stopped meddling and let Nature recover then we can start looking at helping further by increasing the flora and fauna further by a wild flower seed sowing campaign. But maybe that my own little Utopia.

      • Hi Michael
        Thanks for your comment. It’s perhaps my fault for not being clearer. The aim of the campaign is to reduce the number of times some roadside verges are mown to increase the wild flower variety and also to try and coordinate the timing of the mowing to increase the spreading of seeds when flowering has finished. At the moment unless a council has a specific conservation policy in place the mowing can be contracted out and occurs according to the schedule that suits the council or contractor with no consideration of the effect on the wild flower numbers.

        Obviously not all road side verges can be left to grow but if we can start to make councils aware that they should have conservation policies regarding these areas – and the edges of our public green spaces – then we will hopefully see an improvement in how they are managed. If areas designated ‘wild life friendly’ are mown in early Spring (mid April) then once again at the end of summer (Sept) as a general rule this will help increase biodiversity in flora and fauna and be a step in the right direction. If grass cuttings can be removed, even better but even when they can’t the results of reduced and correctly timed mowing can have a very positive effect. Also, not spraying these areas with indiscriminate weed killer would be a huge advantage.

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