Posted on 26 April, 2015Comments (0)

Wildlife Support & Conservation

Wildlife Support & Conservation

Spring is here and beckons us all outside to tidy up our gardens…..but what about the verge, and are residents responsible for tidying up verges outside their properties? The answer is definitely a big….NO!

I met a newcomer recently, i.e. he had only been living in the village for two years, having moved from a more suburban area. His garden was well tended and he told me he had created an ‘untidy’ area at the bottom of his garden for wildlife. ‘Wonderful’, I exclaimed, but why did he feel he had to tidy up the wildflower verge and remove dead wood and brambles from the verge opposite his property?

He explained that he was making space for schoolchildren to stand and wait for the school bus. Such a public-spirited individual, you may think. We had a chat and I explained that we are not expected to tidy up verges, most of which belong to Hampshire County Council, and in fact doing so, could be construed as ‘gardening’ and definitely not conducive for areas which are and should remain ‘wild’.

As I travel around the parishes of Four Marks and Medstead, taking photographs and collecting information for the Neighbourhood Plan, I have marvelled at the tidy verges outside some properties, most of which are carefully mowed and probably considered to be an extension of most gardens.

Now and then I come across an ‘natural’ verge, completely unkempt and now blanketed with Primroses. So, the message is…..leave the verge. Let the grass grow and HCC will cut it at the appropriate time of year, or wait until the Autumn when wildflower seeds have set and dispersed.

Verges where Violet Helleborines, rare, wild orchids, have been identified are only cut once a year by HCC, and usually at the end of April. Try to resist the temptation to cut the grass, leave the verge in a wild state and see what appears! Jill and Terry reside in a bungalow in Fairfield Green and have a wild flower area in their front garden. The Bee Orchid has appeared here recently, but now their lawn is full of Primroses. My verge in Blackberry Lane is small in comparison, but also full of Primroses.

As wildflower meadows continue to diminish, wild flowers on verges are becoming more important. Plantlife tells us that, ‘once the colourful mantle of our green and pleasant land, a staggering 97% of meadows have been lost in the last 75 years’. It is vital to conserve our remaining historic wildflower meadows.

Take a look at the website, and ‘Say No to the Mow’. Discover the wild flowers you have in your garden. Daisies, buttercups, clover and orchids will also attract pollinators, and butterflies and bumblebees. In early Spring verges in our villages are presently abundant with Wood Anemones, Primroses and the Lesser Celandine.

William Wordsworth is well known for his poem,

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud..
when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils’,

but he also wrote three poems to the Celandine, and this is thought to be his favourite Spring flower.

If you have thoughts of planting another wonderful, early-flowering plant, the Chimonanthus praecox (Winter Sweet, Chimonanthus) is ideal. This is a beautiful, large, border plant which is planted for its colour as well as its scent. It may be planted near a wall as it prefers a sheltered position, perhaps near other woodland planting. This plant attracts early Honeybees, Bumblebees and the Brimstone butterfly.

Hellebores also provide a wonderful display, are very easy to grow and will attract bees to your garden.

Diana Tennyson

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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