Why are England's roadsides exploding with colour?

Roadside Meadow in Swarcliffe, Leeds

Why are England's roadsides exploding with colour?

We have an interesting relationship with ‘wild’ flowers. Filming a mini BBC series on pollinators 10 years ago, I watched what people did when walking through city meadows in full flower. Wild annuals had been sown in a series of semi-dilapidated, inner-city spaces in Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds. Everyone loved the abundance, but, more than that, the vandalism, graffiti and drug-taking had, at least from those places, totally disappeared.

Some very occasionally picked a small posy to take home (which was encouraged), but no one, in any of the sites, had trashed the flowers. No one biked through them or stamped them down. People dropped far less litter – the meadows were left pretty pristine.

Flowery abundance brings out the best in us and we have a similar reaction to meadows in the wild. We seem to feel younger, more joyful, even elated, when we come across a proliferation of wildflowers. People who have hardly noticed flowers in their whole life are overcome and travel miles to get another ‘fix’. It becomes addictive because it makes us feel so good.

(Read more at https://www.countrylife.co.uk/nature/worlds-greatest-wildflowers-find-dedicate-lives-recording-bring-us-much-joy-192622#k106S60sOyYB8tRu.99)

"A long-running campaign encouraging councils to let neatly-mown grass verges become mini meadows where wildflowers and wildlife can flourish appears to be building up a head of steam.

Since 2013, Plantlife has been telling authorities the move could help them save money and boost their green credentials.

Several have taken the message on board. An eight-mile "river of flowers" alongside a major route in Rotherham was widely praised on social media recently and roadside meadows have also popped up in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield.

So are we likely to see more from the "meadow movement" in the future?"

Who's behind the campaign?

Plantlife has been banging the drum for wilder roadside verges since 2013.

The group said the UK had lost 97% of its wildflower meadows in less than a century - with roadside verges particularly hard hit.

It said safety and access considerations along with a desire for "neatness" and the logistics of litter-picking had resulted in authorities adopting an overzealous approach to keeping verges short.

Plantlife said a "cut less, cut later" approach by councils and highways authorities could significantly improve the health of the UK's verges.

It said: "We want flowers to be allowed to flower so pollinators can work their magic and seeds can ripen and fall to the ground. In this way, the floral display will become better and better every year."

Newport, Cardiff

Why is this happening now?

Franziska Schrodt, an ecosystems expert at the University of Nottingham, said it was no surprise roadside meadows were becoming a more frequent sight.

She said: "More people are now aware of environmental issues, including pollution and loss of biodiversity which also lead to an acceptance of a messier urban aesthetic.

"Indeed, whilst some continue to view unmowed road verges as untidy, the majority of drivers find them visually pleasing and roadside verge meadows have been shown to reduce driver stress significantly.

"Local councils are responding to these changes in public opinion whilst also considering human resources and economic sustainability, as well as roadside safety.

"From a scientific viewpoint, we now know much more about the importance of roadside vegetation for biodiversity and other critical services to humanity such as regulating pollution, maintaining soil structure and health, reducing flood risk... than even five years ago."

So will we see more roadside meadows in the future?

Plantlife hopes so. It said: "A few roadside nature reserves is not enough. We want to transform the entire network.

"There are nearly 500,000 km of rural road verge in the UK. This is equal to half of our remaining flower-rich grasslands and meadows. Their potential is enormous."

Can I grow my own urban meadow?

Quite possibly. Peter Thain, from Cheltenham, recently ripped up his front garden and sowed wildflower seeds to create his own mini-meadow.

He said his neighbours thought he was "nuts" but he was really pleased with how it turned out.

read more at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-48772448

Here at Westfield

We are very much in support of this movement the benefits are too good to ignore

we spread wildflower seeds on a regular basis at selected neglected areas and we encourage our clients to spread wildflower seeds where-ever they see the opportunity too!

You can actually buy 'bombs'

check these out!

Kabloom beebom

https://kabloom.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Seedbom-1_2019-Spring-Catalogue_web-1-2.pdf

What do you think,

Do you like Meadows?


Written by

Isaac Stradling