I will always associate the colour of hot pink with Pembrokeshire. Not because of any unfortunate beach attire or heaven forbid, hoards of hen parties sporting suspenders and bunny ears in the same sizzling shade. For me, this glowing, vibrant colour will always be a reminder of early summer in Wales when the hedgerows burst forth with the giant, spiked towers of the fabulous Foxglove and the rambling bright beauty of Red Campion.
Everywhere we went in Pembrokeshire in early June, Foxgloves were in full bloom. Lining country lanes around St. Davids, celebrating our ascension of yet another hill top with a gentle wave in the wind, nestling into sheltered nooks and crannies of the exposed cliff-tops – they were everywhere and they made my heart and eyes happy.
Foxgloves were not the only flower in abundance in Pembrokeshire’s verges and hedgerows. It is a long time since I saw such a profusion of wild-flowers – so long in fact that I had to look up several of the blooms whose names I could recite so easily as a child. In our modern-day mission for neatness, order and safety measures, our roadsides and hedgerows are now much more likely to sport a tidy crew cut than meadow hair, with our back-gardens following the trend.
For our native wild-flowers, insects and onward food-chain, such an obsession for order has serious consequences. With only 2% of the wild flower meadows that existed in the 1930s still in existence, our native plants have taken a battering, with bees and other pollinating insects so vital for crop production suffering a knock-on blow. UK verges are some of the few places left for grassland to take root. They form an important coridor for wildlife whose natural territories and eco-sytems are disrupted by our transport networks. Aside from all else, they look pretty and are an intrinsic part of the green country lanes Britain is so famed for.
Plantlife lead the way with raising awareness of our dwindling meadows and over-mown verges and lawns. Through their ‘Say No to the Mow’ campaign and Alan Titchmarsh’s personal vendetta on roadside verge mowing (other than for safety purposes obviously) Plantlife are attempting to protect these vital habitats as well as help our councils save a bob or two by reducing over-zealous mowing schedules.
We can help too! If mowing the lawn is a chore you could do without then here is your perfect excuse – Plantlife are asking us all to set aside an area of our gardens, ideally a sunny patch, to give over to grass and just let it grow. If you’re feeling really lazy or particularly keen then why not let it all go wild?!
We have a spot under our large oak tree that is given over to whatever wants to grow there. We have planted native bluebell bulbs there which are really taking off now after a few years of naturalising but otherwise we just let it do whatever it wants and enjoy a profusion of Cow Parsley, Buttercups, Cuckoo Pint (an educational tool for teaching Roo about plants and berries that are not good to touch and pick) and the gorgeous Forget-Me-Nots which formed the backdrop to one of my favourite photos of Roo as a baby. I am working out where I can squeeze in a small sunny meadow area too although our dominant oak tree makes this tricky!
You can also take part in the verge campaign by writing to your local council (I’ve finally got round to it yesterday!) and tweeting photos recording the state of plant life on your local roadsides using the #saveourverges or #saynotothemow. Our lanes near us are pretty good, with only the key areas near junctions mown but the same cannot be said the more major roadsides.
For the first time I’ve also put my name down to take part in the annual plant survey. If you want to get involved too, you have until 31st July to register over at the Plantlife website. It seems to involve the possibility of a local walk clocking the plants sighted along the way. Given that I am out walking so much anyway this is right up my street! It will also give Roo a great opportunity to get out her wild flower spotters book and learn a few more names to add to her new favourite ‘Fox Flower’.
Have you got a wild meadow area in your garden? Are the verges around you cut super-short or left to go wild? I’d love to hear about your experience so do please leave a comment!
Don’t forget too to share your outdoor, wildlife and nature related posts with the #wildlifewednesday linky below. Old or new – any post goes – so long as it is not a sponsored or commercial (posts from relevant charities/voluntary organisations are fine though). Look forward to reading your posts!