Trimmed to 6 inches once or twice per year and we’re left with a mower’s-width strip of plain, ordinary, everyday, common-or-garden grass stretching for miles and miles along our roadsides, whether in the country or in town.
But leave this strip to grow for a while and we begin to see that the grass is neither plain nor ordinary, but is made up of foxtails, bents and cat’s-tails, timothy, wild-oats and bromes, spires and plumes, wisps and spikes, grasses of all sorts, tufted, tall or waving in the wind!
Early in the year we see our roadside verges brilliantly lit up with the sunshine yellow of dandelions, soon followed by hosts of dandelion ghosts as they set their clocks to produce seed. Yet, leave it a little while longer and we’ll begin to see vetch and primrose, celandine, scabious and cow parsley, then red clover, bluebells, campions and cuckoo flowers. Later still, poppies, yarrow, teasels and honeysuckle appear, and of course buttercups and daisies in their many, many forms.
Beetles, bees, butterflies and moths as well as hoverflies, sawflies and spiders of many kinds all find their refuge in these verges. In fact I’m told that they have wonderful names like the marmalade hoverfly, the orange-tip butterfly, the froghopper and the buff-tailed bumble bee.
Our good friends at the Tay Landscape Partnership have recently launched a campaign which is aimed at managing your favourite roadside verges for the protection of wildlife. To take part in this great initiative, take a wander over to http://www.taylp.org/are-you-a-road-verge-champion/ where you can nominate particular verges which capture your eye, photographs more than welcome!
Spread the word and spread the wildflowers!