Lock Up Your Mowers For May
‘No Mow May’ is a campaign by Plantlife encouraging individuals and councils to lock up their mowers for May. This allows the grass and flowers to grow and therefore helps bees, butterflies and wildlife to thrive.
Why There Is A Problem
Sadly since the 1930s we have lost 7.5 MILLION ACRES of wildflower meadows; now only 1% of UK countryside is wildflower meadows.
To put this into context 7.5 million acres is one and a half times the size of Wales. Of the meadows that were lost 45% is now intensive pasture which is dominated by perennial rye grass and white clover, and 43% is for arable crops mostly consisting of cereal monoculture.
In the United Kingdom there are around 23 million gardens which equates to approximately 433 hectares of land or 4,330 square kilometres. This is a HUGE amount of space and if every garden left a small amount for wildlife – even one dandelion for hungry bees – it would collectively make a huge difference.
By not mowing, bees, butterflies and caterpillars are provided with nectar and leaves, and also offers a safe space for a whole range of bugs and insects, and larger wildlife such as frogs, toads and hedgehogs.
How Can I Make A Difference?
It’s very simple, lock up your mower for the month of May.
Joining in ‘No Mow May’ is a win win situation – less work for the gardener, more food and habitats for wildlife.
If you’re keen to go one step further and rewild for the summer you can join in with Plantlife’s #letitbloomjune and #kneehighjuly campaigns.
The Wildlife Gardening Forum have lots of information on a range of wild plants that you could introduce to your garden.
Every little positive action goes towards a bigger achievement
Not having a garden needn’t be a barrier to encouraging wildlife – window boxes sown with wildflowers, some plants on a balcony or a couple of pots on your front door step make great difference to. For some small space inspiration click here.
Together we can, and will, make a difference.
Local Councils Can Lead The Way
In the UK there are 300,000 miles of road verges supporting 700 species.
These make up 45% of our total flora, and include many species that are becoming threatened such as harebells, field scabious and ragged robin.
The Good Verge Guide provides a wealth of further information on this.
Plantlife also run a campaign lobbying councils to leave road verges un-mown. There are circumstances in which verges need to be mown – for example at some junctions to ensure drivers can see clearly – but many many miles could be left and mown once or twice a year.
Kettering & Corby are a great example of a council doing it well, their ‘Pardon the weeds we are feeding the bees‘ signs went viral last year and the verges look beautiful.
There was a patch of verge that was left to grow on my commute to a previous job. It was a delight seeing it grow in the spring and bloom over the summer. It was a riot of pinks and yellows and genuinely brightened up an otherwise dreary drive – I am sure many hundreds of people enjoyed it each day, and therefore not only was it good for nature but good for people too.
Whilst some councils recognise the importance of of verges and have really made an impact, others are lagging far behind.
What More Can I Do?
You can support Plantlife’s campaign – sign the petition, use their information to lobby your own council, and spread the word with friends and neighbours.
We have emailed our local council and they replied that they have
“…been in conversation with Natural England about initiating a scheme to add more wildflower verges to our asset inventory…”
We’ll be asking more questions and doing what we can to support and encourage them to go further to protect the many miles of verge in Northamptonshire.
As always I hope this has been useful, and if you have any questions or suggestions please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you!
Image credits: Annie Spratt on Unsplash