Could today’s report from the UK‘s roadsides signal a change in direction for councils throughout the country? New national guidance for managing roadside verges for wildflowers has been drawn up, reporting that if road verges were cut later and less often, 400 billion more flowers could be seen in Britain.
In a country where 97 per cent of wildflower meadows have disappeared since the 1930s, roadside grassland provides a vital area of habitat for many species of wildflowers. There are over 313, 500 miles of rural road in the UK and according to the report, 700 species of wildflower grow on road verges – nearly 45 per cent of total flora. But there has been a 20 per cent drop in floral diversity due to poor management and nutrient pollution.
The report has been produced by wildlife charity Plantlife and backed by industry bodies including Skanska, Kier, Natural England and other environmental groups. Managing Grassland Road Verges is a best practice guide for all those engaged with verge management and creation.
Intended as a practical guide for highways managers, the report suggests an approach which reduces cutting frequency, reduces vegetation growth and improves the natural capital value. A different number of cuts are suggests according to the type of grass, but the key principles include no cutting before the end of July and removal of all grass cuttings, which lowers soil fertility and allows a more diverse range of wildflowers to spring up.
There’s always things gardeners can do to help promote wildflower diversity and pollinators in their garden. Read our piece on the best places in the world to see wildflowers. And let’s not forget that autumn is a very good time to sow wildflowers.