Contributor to Country Life and TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh is challenging Britain’s councils to conserve precious flora by not mowing roadside verges too early and too often.

‘The verges near where I live hav gorgeous displays of wildflowers, but they’re sometimes being mown down in their prime,’ laments Mr Titchmarsh. ‘This deprives wildlife of food, us of their beauty and, unwittingly, contributes to the eventual loss of the flowers altogether. We’ve lost 98% of our wildflower meadows; let’s look after the slivers that are left.’

Mr Titchmarsh is backing Plantlife’s campaign for better verge management (‘Verging on the ridiculous’, COUNTRY LIFE, April 16, 2013). The charity says verges-home to about three times more grassland than remains in the countryside and many wildflowers’ last refuge-are under attack, with flowers being mown down in full bloom, smothered with cuttings or sprayed off, to leave just thistles, docks and coarse grasses.

The Alan Challenge (www.plantlife.org.uk/roadvergecampaign) urges councils to manage out-of-town verges by only mowing the full width of the verge once a year (no earlier than the end of August and no later than the end of March), by not cutting between these months (unless it’s to aid road safety) and to remove cuttings when possible.

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