Local Councils Are Planting Wildflowers on Roadsides as Part of a Campaign to Restore the Countryside

By Shabana Arif on at

If you've been noticing roundabout and roadside patches of grass looking prettier than usual, you're not the only one. It's part of a nationwide effort to restore the UK's dwindling wildflower meadows.

Plantlife's road verge campaign stresses that a "cut less, cut later" approach should be adopted by local councils and highway authorities to "improve the health" of verges, which will them bloom into mini meadows. This seems a cheaper way to pretty up the roadside than, say, horrendous multicoloured obelisks masquerading as art.  Of course, art is subjective, but you know what costs barely anything and is liked by almost everyone? Flowers.

Rotherham in particular is being praised for adopting this ethos, creating an eight-mile stretch of wild flowers that that will help pollinators, as highlighted by The British Beekeepers Association. "They chose a mix of native and non-native plants to extend the flowering period & saved 25K in mowing costs!," reads the Facebook post.

The BBC reports that similar wildflower 'meadows' are being cultivated in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield. However, the scorching hot weather which we don't usually get afflicted with on our little island has been a cause for concern, so the program is going into a second pilot year to evaluate its long-term benefits.

"Some of the verges on the M40 are absolutely beautiful, absolutely covered in cowslips, and now there's a lot of other lovely flowers, but that doesn't always happen," said Pam Hunter, head of research at the British Beekeepers' Association.

"So a lot of the time it has to be an active project from the council or authority to actually plant the right kind of flowers, which can be a bit complicated - but it's certainly been very successful in some areas."

Public opinion seems to be affecting the adoption of transforming verges, which just means that the people who care about how neat the roadside looks are being outnumbered by those who care more about the local wildlife and environment.

"There are nearly 500,000 kilometres of rural road verge in the UK. This is equal to half of our remaining flower-rich grasslands and meadows: their potential is enormous. With support from our partners and the public, we believe this will happen," reads Plantlife's website.

If you think this is a worthy endeavour, go and tell someone about it.