For Years The Grass Verges At Bowd Had Been Regularly Mown, Indeed Some Would Say Regularly Razed To The Ground. Today They Are Full Of Life With A Rich Biodiverse Mix Of Plant, Pollinator And Other Species.
How was this achieved? Largely by leaving well alone and and letting nature reclaim it. The result has been the return of plants, birds, butterflies and much more. And it’s cost not a penny.
When it was regularly mown most of the plants never seeded. In fact many never had the chance to flower. So seed eating birds such as goldfinches couldn’t feed there. And nectar and pollen loving bees and other pollinators had nothing to feed on.
By not mowing we seen new plants starting to grow. The seed that’s lain dormant in the soil has been brought to the surface by moles and other creatures. They have flowered, seeded and restarted their life cycle.
Plants such as Cuckooflower are now flowering. They are the food plant of the orange tip butterfly and I’m now seeing this butterfly at Bowd. I never saw it there before.
There are in fact a whole host of butterflies now being seen there that weren’t recorded before. Plus we have two species of grasshopper.
Safety First For Road Users
To allow grass to cause safety issues would be very wrong. We recognise this and sightlines at junctions are regularly mown. So is a strip around the whole site. It makes it safe for road users and is a must. Strangely enough it’s also good for wildlife. Grasshoppers sunbathe in the shorter areas and use the unmown bits for living and breeding in.
To further improve safety and biodiversity we’ve sown Yellow rattle seed on the site. No machinery was used, we just broadcast the seed by hand. The result is fast establishing yellow rattle which will parasitise rank grasses and decrease growth. This gives space for wildflowers such as primroses, foxgloves, cuckoo flower, plantains, knapweed, and many more species to colonise and improve the environment.
Sequestering Carbon on Verges
As the plant community grows it is sequestering carbon. Had we cultivated the area to sow with wildflower seed it would have released carbon. Plus it would have needed machinery, labour, expensive seeds and petrol to be used. That all costs money whilst the way we’ve achieved a rich diverse natural community here has cost absolutely nothing. We didn’t use hydrocarbons, we didn’t release soil carbon and we didn’t cause pollution.
I walked over the site earlier today and watched a flock of 20+ goldfinches feeding on dock seed. There were butterflies and bees, the buzz of life and hope. And this is all on the edge of the busy A3052.
I call upon councils across the south west to reduce mowing and improve biodiversity. And if they follow this example they can do it at very low or zero cost whilst maintaining a high level of safety for all road users.