Don't mow, let it grow!
Restoring native wild flowers and encouraging biodiversity along some grass verges in Surrey is part of Surrey County Council’s climate change initiatives. The Fetcham Residents’ Association is working with SCC to make this happen sympathetically in our area. Bookham started this initiative in 2020 and with their help and support Fetcham Blue Hearts is delighted to spread the campaign to the Fetcham area in spring 2021.
Whilst a lot of our residential verges will still be mowed, the aim is to allow wild flowers to bloom and set seed on as many verges as possible to encourage a diversity of butterflies and insect pollinators. A swathe along the road edge and alongside footpaths will be mowed regularly to maintain sight lines and safety whilst in the wild flower areas one full width cut in the autumn will prevent woody shrub growth and neaten the area.
These wild flower areas will be marked with Blue Hearts. The Blue Heart scheme followed the State of Nature Report 2014 which highlighted the dramatic decline in biodiversity across the UK. Wildflowers have declined drastically over the last fifty years due to a variety of reasons - loss of meadows, changes in farming practices, development, road verge mowing and too ‘tidy’ gardens. This loss has created a domino effect – fewer native flowering plants means less nectar for, bees, butterflies and pollinating insects which many of our native birds, bats and small mammals rely on for their food, indeed some plants have become so rare that they only exist in small pockets on road verges. Insects pollinate the majority of the food we eat, bees, butterflies, insects and caterpillars very often have specific plants they feed on, what we think of as ‘weeds’ have leaves and flowers which are their food source, when the wild plants decline insect numbers also decline, the aim is to reverse this trend.
We already have some lovely wild flowers in some of our verges, from primroses and buttercups to cowslips, cow parsley, orchids and many more. As well as road verges and parks, there are numerous small ‘green’ areas across Fetcham which could be managed as meadows or could have areas left unmown. Wildflower road verges can become vital and beautiful landscape corridors, swathes of colour in spring and summer, connecting green spaces through the village and the wider countryside.
Some residents are already leaving some parts of their lawn to grow long and have small ‘meadow-lets’ with wildflowers in their gardens. SCC isn’t responsible for all verges and many residents are already reducing the frequency of mowing on the verges outside their houses and planting with spring bulbs and letting them grow throughout the summer, all that’s needed is a blue heart sign to tell everyone. I think we have all appreciated the beauty of our roadsides and countryside during this lockdown spring.
The Blue Heart symbol will communicate to neighbours and passers-by that rewilding is in progress (and that it is not just the owner or council being lazy). The hearts will be made locally and decorated by hand.
We would love all residents to get on board with us - our aim is to make Fetcham a fabulous blooming ‘wild’ village to live in for humans and wildlife. We have lots of advice, please do contact us to find out how you can help and to discuss your road verges, email email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you and look out for blue hearts!
Scroll down this page for some of that advice about how to: Make-Your-Own Blue Hearts, find an Existing Maker of Blue Hearts , and Where (and where not) to Place your Blue Hearts. There is also our gallery of Fetcham Blue Hearts pictures.
Best wishes, the Fetcham Blue Hearts team.Fetcham-Blue-Hearts-Residential-verge-guidelines-BEST