I have a new hobby – driving along country lanes having mood swings. I can go from elation to despondency in a few hundred metres, depending on what is growing or not growing at the side of the road. Round here we’ve gone from bluebells studded with white starry stitchwort to big lolloping globs of cow parsley, purple vetch, red campion and herb robert (Look who’s eaten the Collins Nature Guide to Wild Flowers of Britain & Europe).
It is no exaggeration to say that my little heart sings when I see these teeming billowy borders and they make the seemingly endless driving and diesel consumption of my new country lifestyle all the easier to swallow.
But all too often this loveliness is cut to the ground, mown down by the councils. I get it when it’s a safety issue, like a junction. Or if pedestrians need access. But most of the scalped verges round here aren’t areas people walk on or need to see over. All those lovely flowers, vital to pollinating insects (and we all know they’re a precious thing) are toppled before they can set seed for next year.
If they would just wait till mid-July, an even more lovely diversity of flowers would come up next year, and the insects would get another month and a half of nectar and pollen. Last week I drove past a particularly pretty mass of wild flowers on the way to the shops. On the way back, nothing remained of them but the smell of grass cuttings (see picture below). Why oh why etc ad infinitum. Ranting ensued. Small children in the back quaked.
SEED:Ball and River of Flowers are doing a #nomow campaign on Twitter, encouraging people to send in before and after shots of brutally scalped verges. Taking photos from a moving car, of course, isn’t easy but you could always pull over on the, er, verge. On second thoughts maybe find a nice layby.