Braunton Parish Council are encouraging community groups to plant up wildflower verges on their highways. In 2020 Life on the Verge gifted equipment to the Parish Council which is now loaned out to community groups to help them prepare the ground ready for wildflowers to be planted. The Council is also increasing the amount of native flora and fauna by leaving some verges to grow naturally. This is a pilot scheme being trialled in areas of Braunton with advice from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust; who particularly want to encourage the now rare Brown Banded Carder Bee and Moss Carder Bee. Both were once common throughout Devon but are now only found in a few of our Coastal Areas. These verges have also been seeded with additional indigenous wildflowers such as red clover, vipers bugloss, greater knapweed, chicory, evening primrose and comfrey all huge favourites with Bees.
Where grass is left to grow longer it provides both shelter and hunting grounds for many beneficial insects, mammals and slow worms (a protected species) who along with the poor hedgehogs unfortunately, all too often, fall victim to the mechanical mower and strimmer. Councils can become a hedgehog hero through the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Did you know that many solitary bees as well as bumblebees build their nest on the ground in long grass? Hedgehogs, badgers and birds mop up slugs, snails, worms and insects. Foxes and hawks hunt the small mammals such as mice, voles and shrews which also make their homes in the long grass. So thank you to long grass and wild flowers, the start of a very important food chain.
To help educate the public and increase our volunteers, the council has put up signage and ran an article in a local monthly magazine explaining what they are trying to achieve by leaving areas uncut and have received an overwhelming positive response from residents and visitors. The grounds maintenance team have found that by only mowing a strip running along pavements and roads to avoid long wet grass flopping into the path of pedestrians and road users, frees up enough time to create and seed, wildflower planting islands at intervals along the unmown verges, as a little extra to what is already there. And it is surprising what is popping up after only two months!
The council would also like to thank Knowle Community Group and Love Braunton for their help in planting up other areas in Braunton.
Saunton Park Residents have planted a fantastic garden along the wide verge on the Saunton Road. This verge is not only pleasing to the eye of all who pass and pause a while, it also feeds the soul and eases the mind with its array of beautiful flowers and gentle hum of attending insects. The wide variety of flowers provides an easily accessible nectar rich banquet for pollinating insects as well as a habitat and refuge for many other beneficial insects. These insects in turn provide birds, bats, small mammals and slow worms with a much needed food source.
All plants on this verge have been grown and donated by local residents and Braunton Parish Council thanks them and the volunteers who have given their time, energy and love to plant and maintain the verge for the enjoyment of the wider community.
Devon’s town and parish councils are being invited to join the Wild About Devon initiative including the Devon Parish and Town Council Wildlife Network. This is an excellent way for councils with a focus on the environment to share their experiences and expertise with other councils in Devon. Read more here.