Thursday, 26 November 2015

peregrine nesting boxes

November has been very wet here in Nottinghamshire.

Unable to work outside on the waterlogged soil, I was driven inside to make peregrine nesting boxes. You know how it is.

Peregrines are always a thrill to see, and we were lucky enough to see four 'skyhunters' in total above Cordwood in September of this year. The peregrine is the world's fastest living thing: amazing and beautiful birds. They came close to calamity in the sixties due to the use of dieldrin chemicals on farms. Thankfully, their use was banned and slowly peregrine numbers have risen and these days they can be seen in our cities, nesting on tall buildings.

Now, I've used old scrap wood to make bird nesting boxes since childhood - but these beauties are on a different scale and made much easier with Roger's help and his enviable collection of power saws! A window into a man's world. 

The boxes are made from exterior grade ply, they measure 800mm wide, 5000mmm high at the front and 600mm deep.  The box will have a layer of gravel.

The 'client' asked for the boxes to be creosoted - with 'no runs'! With the price of creosote, he needn't have worried about runs as I applied each drop of the noxious liquid with a cotton bud.

I'm not at liberty to say where the boxes will be sited as peregrine's eggs and young are still stolen. But, don't worry people: if either is successful you'll read it here first! And at length.

Thankfully lithe and athletic pal Andy will be climbing high to mount them with son Dave having volunteered to help.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

time to put the orchard meadow to bed

Last week, the fieldfares clucking overhead on their flight south from northern Europe told us it was time to say goodbye to autumn.

In the orchard, the old trees had produced a reasonable crop. Windfalls littered the ground for late flying insects, for mammals and for the birds.

hens off to explore mown orchard
The grass which is left to grow throughout the year had been home to frogs and toads, field voles and wood mice and to butterflies, moths, bees and grasshoppers. We haven't had as much success as we had hoped with wild flowers in this meadow area. Annual yellow rattle and perennial greater knapweed have grown well but plug-planted self heal and oxeye daisies disappointed. The big disappointment has been the lack of hedgehogs. The grass was thick with slugs on warm summer evenings (hedgehog party time!?) but although we saw at least two hedgehogs in the spring, we have only had one sighting of hedgehog throughout the summer. The unblinking eye of my trail cam captured no hedgehogs in action in the orchard whatsoever. We hope that they've been plying their trade unseen in the undergrowth.

The orchard meadow flower seeds should have now been shed, so last week was time to cut the grass so that the fertility held within the stems and leaves could be removed. Our native wildflowers can be overwhelmed by verdant and coarse grasses so reduction in fertility is important. Dad and I mowed the grass and barrowed the grass cuttings away for composting.

Each year we leave an area of uncut grass to provide a 'safe haven' for overwintering invertebrates and to provide foraging for birds and mammals. This year we have left a central island of longer grass for this purpose.

The remaining grass has not been 'scalped'. Among the grass tussocks are many tunnels created by voles. We don't want to disturb these: we are keen to support the vole population and also the  beautiful kestrel whose diet comprises voles.

In traditional meadow management, once cut, animals are released onto the grass for the winter. Despite entreaties, the head gardener will not sanction sheep. So I make do with releasing the chickens.

So with the grass cut, the hens were released to have a scratch. Nothing seems to display haughty disapproval in the manner of a hen. On release from their run, they only needed pinz nes to more fully take the look of scathing Georgian dowager duchesses.

But then they thought better of it - and trotted off to explore.

Friday, 6 November 2015

.. in my opinion

Is it time for us to put a brake on our politicians?

I only ask, not because of fundamental disagreement with this administration. Although that is there.

I ask because all too frequently there seems to be an unbridgeable gulf between science/ research and political decisions.

Let me shoot a couple out.

One very current one is the badger cull. There seems to be overwhelming research that this politically-driven cull is at best ineffective and more likely to be completely counter-productive. Infected badgers have been shown to move from culling areas into adjacent ones taking their diseases with them and spreading it to healthy populations. Wrong decision.

From another area of public policy comes the latest decision to test seven year olds. I cannot find any support within educational research literature to support this idea. Many children at this age are not ready for tests, testing will disrupt and skew the school curriculum. And on doing so will impoverish what children are offered and indeed lower standards. Wrong decision.

I won't go on, but the sense of exasperation expressed by professionals at both of these decisions is so strong it could be cut with a knife.

But, in a democracy, surely we elect our politicians to make decisions on our behalf? Of course we do, but there seems to be a recognition from politicians themselves that some decisions are better taken from their hands.

Gordon Brown was there at the beginning of the process by giving the Bank of England its independence. People say that this independence should go further but at least the population now know that our interest rates are no longer set by political whim.

The last government took inspiration from this decision by creating the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). Once again, arguments go back and forth about the effectiveness and brief of the OBR. But most now agree that an objective voice in this area is a good one.

Within the political football that is our NHS, there is agreement that clinical decisions on the drugs used within the NHS should not be decided by politicians but are more-effectively taken by professionals - the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

And now for my passion - the environment. I consider that the time is right to create a body similar to those above for dealing with key issues around the environment where smoke and mirrors, NIMBYism, big money and political spin all combine to get in the way of effective policy.

the badger cull - a political or research-led decision?
Take the emotionally charged issues of fracking. There seems little chance of getting those passionately opposed to this new technology to find common ground with developing companies. What does the research tell us and shouldn't that hold sway above opinion, prejudice and profit?

Or GM. As above.

Or HS2.

Or climate change.

Or a new runway at Heathrow.

Or the desertification of our uplands.

Or the badger cull.

All in their own way absolutely vital to our nation - but when left to fallible politicians we are left with the knowledge that their own agendas, careers and competence combined with the power of vested interest will bear too heavily on eventual decisions.

I know that this information can be made available to ministers in briefings from their civil servants. But politicians can and do frequently ignore 'advice' no matter how balanced or cogent.

And this uneasy feeling about our politicians and their effectiveness is in part why we hear the cry 'they're all the same' and that people have turned off politics.

Politicians and democracy must remain central to our nations life. But let's find a way of letting the voice of respected and peer-reviewed research be heard. And in doing so wash clean this vital element of our nations' life.

The time of the Office for Environmental Responsibility has come.

Monday, 2 November 2015

crimea plantation

Right up between us and Bestwood Country Park is Crimea Plantation (or Wood): there's no vehicle access and there's not been any woodland management for years.

Boundary beech leaves catching the sun
The local mountain bike population uses the steep gradients for daredevil jumps and has created remarkable earthworks to facilitate their speedy journey to NHS casualty departments courtesy of the air ambulance.

Our guess is that the wood was planted after the Crimean War. Sanderson's Map of 1835 shows the area as being farmland. The term plantation suggests that a woodland was planted  - rather than naturally regenerated - after 1856 and possibly in commemoration of the local fallen..?

Nathan hangs mysteriously in the fog
Another theory we have is that the fast growing sweet chestnuts were planted to provide pit props for Bestwood Colliery making use of a hillside that was close to the colliery and not suitable as either pasture or for arable crops. However, there are very few mature trees at all. Puzzling.

The densely canopied wood also contains beech, oak - and sycamore.

There is little understory beyond bramble that rarely flowers or fruits. Ubiquitous and invasive rhododendron ponticum has established itself.

The limited native flora results in impoverished fauna. One record of woodcock is all we can muster although we think buzzard and sparrowhawk may nest around here. There are very few migrant songbirds to challenge the spring song of the robins and wrens. We have heard roe deer barking and identified common pipistrelle bats in small numbers.
The boundary oak

Our boundary with the wood is shown on the 1835 map and on that boundary line grows our oldest tree - an oak that is possibly 200 years old. It has serious damage at its base where the bark only covers part of the trunk. Many years ago a bough sank to the ground and has rooted and which is now providing support for the tree.

Unfortunately the unchecked sycamores have grown up beside the venerable oak and are crowding it. Its branches strain to reach sunlight through the dense sycamore foliage.

So, with the landowner's permission, Nate and Dunc came in today with chainsaws, winches, wedges, ropes and levers to remove this unwonted competition and begin some light touch management of this section of the wood.

With permission, our plan over the coming years will be to remove aggressive sycamore that is close to our boundary and to encourage native trees, shrubs and woodland flowers. Deadwood is invaluable to invertebrates and so felled wood and brash will be left to rot. We have also asked our arborists to leave as many trees as possible as vertical 'standing deadwood' as this is considered to be the most useful for wildlife.

The creation of space and the opening of the tree canopy is really important as areas where habitats merge  (the eco-tone) is where one will frequently find the greatest biodiversity.

As areas are cleared we will transplant some of our self-sown holly and yew seedlings to create a more varied understory. We will also seed the area with woodland wild flowers.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

prairie planting

The creation of the final third and fourth sections of our prairie beds is underway...

The first phase is still looking really colourful and the varied forms of the different plants is creating a lot of 'architectural' interest. Those insects still around are finding a late season source of food that will, with luck, carry them through their winter rest. Our pheasant population hunt among the foliage for invertebrates and seeds, confident under the cover of the foliage.

Around one third of the eventual finished extra space is now complete having been dug, de-rubbled and weeded. And, after rain and while the soil is still warm, a weed-suppressing and moisture retaining coat of chippings has been added. The manhole in the leading curve has been raised and was adorned by a penesetum in a birthday pot after this photo was taken.

There will be a serpentine path wide enough for the mower that will separate beds 3 and 4 and this is slowly appearing.

And Jill is already planting those perennials and grasses that respond to autumn transplanting. Monty was moving hemp agrimony in BBC Gardeners' World this week. A feature of our prairie beds will be hemp agrimony's exuberant American cousin Joe-Pye Weed. We'll be moving ours into their new positions this week and in doing this also clearing the overcrowded 'vegetable garden' so that development work there can also be undertaken during the winter.

In the meantime I'll be back on the case again tomorrow, digging my target 'two spits' as I creep towards the all too-distant finish line....

Sunday, 27 September 2015

prairie planting

We've made a lot of landscaping progress this year. Too busy to blog.
''Hrmph. Unforgiveable".

When Jill first saw the 'prairie planting' landscaping schemes of Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, her life changed.
prairie bed 1 - after first season
And as a consequence we've spent a number of years selecting and propagating plants and preparing ground. Now we're at the end of our first season of the first phase of our own prairie bed planting and beginning to prepare the ground for next spring's extension which will see this part of our garden completed.

The plants in the first phase have still got to develop but the mixture of summer flowering perennials and ornamental grasses is already eye-catching. It's certainly catching Jill's eye as you will find her looking at the beds from windows or from the lawn. Or she'll be in the middle, chest deep in her favourite plants running her fingers through the inflorescences of the ornamental grasses.

prairie beds - phase 2
Jill says that she was attracted by the relaxed informality of this planting style. When Dave visited over the summer he commented on the effectiveness of the contrast between the formality of the mown lawn and the exuberance of the perennial planting. He was spot on.

view across lawn towards prairie beds
Fo my part I love the fact that the flowers are all insect friendly and the deepness of the borders and the height of the plants provides excellent cover for wildlife. At the moment we frequently have half a dozen pheasants appearing from the jungle to feed on the lawn.

This week I watched a young kestrel sail down from a perching post and kiss the tops of the flowers with its talons. I'm guessing that it was catching a large insect.

And now the work has begun on the second half of the prairie beds. We're back to digging soil, removing rubble and barrowing soil in to provide the 'hummocky' effect that the head gardener requires.

A lot of hard work.

But all worth it when one can look across on opening the bedroom curtains and see the view.
I've been playing 'This must be what paradise is like' by Van Morrison in my head for days now. You may be able to guess why....

Monday, 21 September 2015

spreading wildflowers...

field scabious
Late summer/early autumn sees a stooped figure skulking along the local roadside verges and waste land. Watch this wrong 'un closely. He's fingering wildflower seed heads and furtively slipping the seeds into envelopes and small bags.

But not a wrong 'un at all really. Away from protected sites, the collection of wildflower seeds is completely ethical. I don't collect on a commercial scale - a seed head here or there-  and my motive is pure. I'm increasing the biodiversity of our developing wildflower meadows with seed that is from the local gene pool.

Sadly, areas for wildlife are so fragmented these days that there is little chance of wildflowers that are not here already making an appearance without a little helping hand. So, I'm giving them a hand up.

Successes so far have been yellow rattle, red campion, cowslip, primrose, honeysuckle and foxgloves. Each of these is now thriving and increasing the biodiversity of our gardens.

field scabious seedlings
This years' additions include seeds from a recent Lincolnshire visit - field scabious (knautia arvensis), a diminutive wild onion or leek and bladder campion (silene vulgare). None of these is currently growing in the meadows so I potted freshly collected seeds into a mixture of coarse sand and spent potting compost, watered and labelled them and covered each pot with a loose fitting recycled plastic bag.

Each of these precious and beautiful wild flowers is not only valuable in their own right - they frequently provide food for the caterpillars of specialist moths or butterflies so they are doubly important.

Todays' rain kept me from work outside so time to pot on some of the seedlings - scabious and bladder campion.

They've been transplanted into individual

plastic plug containers and I hope that they can get a hurry on so that they can be transplanted as vigorous little plants into the developing wildflower meadow areas in the next month.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

the border line ..

Blimey Oh Reilly!
A month since the last blogpost.
I know what you're thinking .. 'I bet the old buffer has been sitting back, soaking up the sun and relaxing'.

Amongst the other stuff, we've been finishing the drive.

The remaining jobs for us were to finish the gates and then to work along the drive beneath the privet hedge, creating an orderly border.

The gates had been hung previously but fell off. Not well hung. Dang it. But enough about me. So, Roger (the brains in the outfit) had new hinges specially made and we hung them! They're still hanging baby, although one has a mysterious arthritic clunk. But what the heck That's a result. Gates that work!

drive border - waiting for privet to be cut
Well, when I say 'Gates that work'.... Our buddy Dave has been working to resolve the other issues. You see, the opening mechanism has a mind of its' own creating the gate equivalent of Arkrwight's till in the Ronnie Barker BBC sitcom 'Open all hours'. Dependent upon their mood: the gates don't close when you want them to; lock you out when you want to come in; and close on cars as they pass through. Apart from that, they're working magnificently.
But Dave's on the case. He'll sort it.

And then there's the drive border.

This had been the recipient of shovels and digger buckets full of discarded roadstone as we worked down the drive getting levels right and putting in edging.

But it was a mess, rather like a weed infested surface of the moon.

So, with picks, spades, trowels, azadas, rakes and wheelbarrows we painstakingly worked down the drive braking up the roadstone and barrowing it away. Then putting in soil. Then watering. Then dividing plants and planting. Then fertilising. Then mulching.

Hard work? I'm going to rename our site 'Cordwood Penitentiary' and have calico suits with arrows printed for the four of us.

Utterly bahoogered. But rejoice people, yesterday, - we finished!!

Bob will cut the hedge at the end of the month and then you'll see how good it is.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

the Toby Buckland garden..?

Really pleased with the way that the new garden is coming together. We've created a fragrant or scented garden. We call it the smelly garden. More accurately, in honour of my Nottingham roots I think of it as the smelleh garden.  Only locals can love our accent.

Path edging is finished in the main beds. Got peripheral stuff to finish but ran out of wooden stakes. Never thought a vegetarian would be crying out for more stakes.

view from kitchen window
And soil has arrived. Of course a hauliers' idea of good topsoil and an assistant gardeners are very different. 'This is fine, great stuff Rob. It's top gear'. Top gear? I was once described as being like Clarkson. Ouch. Back to steaks. Another ouch. You see how much thought goes into this.

This 'top gear' looks like soil when wet ... but dries to a pumice grey. Hmmm.

But thanks to Roger and his dinosaur 'Sir Alex', big buckets of this 'topsoil' were brought over saving me hours of barrowing. And Judith and Roger lent a hand to move it about. The head gardener expressed herself pleased on her return.

Then onto permeable membrane and more barrowing ... but this time of gravel for paths.

Don't let Baz drive 'Sir Alex'...!
Jill has lots of planting to do over coming months. We need to save up for a rose arch entrance. I aim to create a festival of insect hotels here too. I'd be disappointed if I couldn't push a loaded wheelbarrow with a deflated tyre over rutted ground and up inclines -my barrow itch will be scratched a-plenty as I push in wheelbarrows of mulch to cover the soil surface.

And, you know, there's a kind of serendipity out there. 

We have a garden devoted to scented plants. And have created a boundary to the garden with beautiful pheasant grass (Anemanthele lessoniana). And took inspiration from Cambridge Botanical gardens in creating our own.

In our 'down time' Jill's watching Toby Buckland in a recorded TV series called Garden Revival (?) proselytising about first scented plants and then grasses. We've got both in this garden Toby!!  And he once worked at Cambridge Botanical Gardens. Too many coincidences? Toby is a really effective presenter and in my view is the natural heir to the great Geoff Hamilton. He's got a great manner, a twinkle in his eye, is down to earth and full of useful factoids too. For instance - scented double flowers have double the strength of scent of their single cousins. We've sought out simple, single flowers as these are the ones easiest for insects to feed from. There's room for some doubles says the girl in the floral shorts*.

So, perhaps not the smelleh garden at all but the Toby Buckland garden...?

*£1 from CandA in 1980. And with pockets.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

the smelly garden...?

It's a dilemma. What to call something.
The Scented Garden at Cambridge

Over at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens they have an area dedicated to scented plants - a scented garden.

Want one! Great to smell and great for insects.

Herbs. Roses. Magnificent buddleias. Honeysuckle. Sweet peas. Wallflowers. Gravel paths. Hot summer sun.

So, the long process of creating a garden for plants that smell began.

I started by 'lasagne gardening' with layers of cardboard, organic matter topped with chippings. But woe is me - couch grass loved it. Positively flourished. A grass garden? That's a lawn. And the hens thought they'd help by scattering all the chippings everywhere so you couldn't tell where paths were supposed to be. Some help you lot are! You may as well talk to yourself.

So, it stood moribund as I sulked in a corner.
'Lasagne Gardening'
But sulking got me nowhere so I started again.

I have to admit publicly here that I sprayed the lawn where the new garden would emerge.  Not pleased about this. But its out there now.


Then onto the best bit with drill and screws and spirit level and saw and big hammer - the path edging began. Big hammer, hot day, man without t shirt. How come it wasn't the Poldark moment I thought it was going to be? If only we could see ourselves as others do.
'I've seen better muscle tone on a rice pudding'.

But undeterred I created lovely sinuous curves and interconnecting paths.
And that's how far we have got. Soil to be barrowed in; substrate to raise path levels before permeable membrane then gravel. Then another best bit - planting.

But back to my initial question.

What to call it?

It began as 'The Scented Garden'. But its not in the centre. No good.

Then 'The Fragrant Garden'. But that belongs with a gardening tradition I don't feel part of. I could imagine BBC TV presenters like Rachel De Thame floating there, ethereal, balletic with one of those open whicker baskets collecting herbs. Or Monty Don having a Fragrant Garden with Nigel lolling along behind carrying that damn ball.

Lads from Clifton don't have Fragrant Gardens do they?

It was Sally who sorted it. 'The Smelly Garden'.


Friday, 10 July 2015

a pirates rattle

Out in our orchard there's pirate's treasure. And I'm bagging it.

Yellow rattle (rhinanthus minor) is a parasitic plant that swings into the meadow and whose roots suck the juice out of surrounding grasses. The Captain Jack Sparrow of the plant world - stealing the life blood from vigorous grasses around it.

That's great for those of us passionate about meadows and wildflowers. The last thing we need is thuggish, verdant grass swamping our delicate wildflowers. Yellow rattle takes the energy from its host plants leaving space for wildflowers to grow. And it's the food plant for four species of our native moths. In the spring it has pretty yellow flowers ... but I'm most interested in its seed heads.

We grabbed a handful of rattle seeds during a walk three years ago and have been nurturing it the plant the orchard ever since. Yellow rattle is an annual, so it is important that it is allowed to seed. Ours have seeded abundantly and after three years its influence is spreading well.

The seed heads rattle to tell us that they are ready to spill their seed for next year. It is said that farmers would rattle the seed heads to see whether hay was ready for collecting. A good dry rattle would tell the farmer it was time to mow.

And there's a-rattling in the orchard. So swift as a cannonball I'm in, swishing off the seedheads with my cutlas (ok - scissors) and paper-bagging them.

Our newly sown wildflower meadow is waist high in grass so I'm going to sprinkle rattle seed into the grassy ground in the hope that Captain Jack can work his yellow magic next year!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

not quite the magnificent seven

A tour around the garden today on a team bumblebee hunt and DIY bumblebee ID session.

Rain. Cold wind. Not auspicious. A bumblebee must keep its core temperature at 30 degrees C*. With temperatures of around 15 degrees C excluding the effects of the cold wind it was surprising to see any busy bees.
early bumblebee (bombus pratorum)

But six species of bumblebee were identified:

Species of bumblebee     No     Location
  1. Early                       1      Lamium; lavender
  2. Garden                    1      Monkshood
  3. Red tailed                3     Thalictrum; lavender
  4. Common carder     12     Feverfew; foxglove; fuchsia; lavender; rose - nest in Picnic Wood grass
  5. Buff tailed                1     Foxglove
  6. White tailed             1      Rose
Davies mining bee and hummingbird moth were among other invertebrates that braved the cold wind.

common carder bee (bombus pascuorum) nest
We have seen tree bumblebees here at Cordwood. If we had seen her today we would have hit a 'magnificent seven' species. But this disappointment won't keep the theme tune from this wonderful western out of my head for the rest of the day...

Were's mah hoss..?

Do doo, doo doo do doooo...

* Dave Goulson 'A sting in the tail'.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

June evenings

juvenile broad bodied chaser
Just lovin' being outside in June. Especially evenings, when the work is done.

The cold wind that seems to have blighted the preceding months has abated and now there's lots to be seen.

A family of great-spotted woodpeckers has regularly been bringing its boisterous family of three scarlet capped youngsters to the bird feeders.
The early evening sky has been frequently been marked by the passage of around 1500 rooks and jackdaws in a long, straggling party south to their summer roost.

Our muddy wallow of a pond has proved a fertile breeding ground for impressive broad bodied chaser dragonflies. An adult male with a sky blue thorax has set up its territory there and has been vigorously defending it. Meanwhile, at least five juveniles have emerged.

green silver lines moth

One of the quintessential Sherwood birds is the woodcock. Males are famed for their creaking territorial 'roding' flight at twilight over the tree canopy looking for lerv... One did a fly past from Crimea Plantation last night. Hands off, she's mine!!

And also looking for lerv are the male ghost moths that dance over the lawn in a 'lekking' display, showing off to females. Go boys!!

And then there's this beauty - a green silver lines moth - which arrived at the moth light last night. You're gorgeous!!

All of this ... and a glass of Jura single malt. I ask you ...?!

Friday, 19 June 2015

wildflower meadow progress

This year we are extending the wildflower meadow at Cordwood.

'no publicity'?
It has taken time because some areas intended as meadow were thick with rosebay willow herb, nettles and brambles. Now each of these plants, of course, has tremendous wildlife merits, but not in this part of the garden!! So, I've been working to clear ground and hope that I can get a rotavator on it in a couple of weeks. Then seed sowing can begin.

In the meantime, at Judith and Rogers end, they have made more progress. Last week we sowed a pollen and nectar mix into the subsoil seedbed we've created. The great news is that grey squirrels are really enjoying this smorgasbord of seeds!! Grrr!!

"Fox and cubs' or orange hawkweed has been transplanted into the meadow
This photo is one taken by my sister of us during the seed sowing. I think that Jill and I must have ticked the box marked 'no publicity'.

In the meantime, in phases 1 and 2 of the meadow, red clover is having it large and bumble bees are going boogaloo! And delightfully, this years impressive resident pheasant, 'The Sultan' has been busy and one of his six concubines has been seen in the new meadow with half a dozen seriously cute little ball-of-fluff babies.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Stop mowing roadside verges - 'Say no to mow!'

The mowing of roadside verges and central reservations must stop!
Here is my email to my county councillor. Join the campaign!!!

Dear Cllr Barnfather,

I am very disappointed to see so many of Nottinghamshire’s road side verges and central reservations closely mown at this time of year. Where there is no over-riding safety issue, I think that we should not be mowing these areas. 

First there is a cost issue - it would be interesting to know how much money our county is wasting on this each year?
Secondly, and of greater importance to me, is the detrimental effect that mowing has on biodiversity.
red tailed bumblebee and hoverfly enjoy knapweed
If we take as an example the A38 from J28 to Sutton. The Derbyshire section is unmown and hosts Greater Knapweed, Birds Foot Trefoil and is currently resplendent with Oxeye daisies. The border with our county is marked by deadly dull close mown grass. 
Not only is this aesthetically less pleasing, the effect on biodiversity is powerful.
If left unmown these areas can become home to a wide range of our native flora :
  • Changing land use means that many of our previously abundant wildflowers are declining rapidly in numbers. We should be taking every opportunity to give our beautiful wildflowers a chance to bloom in Nottinghamshire. Animal and plant communities are badly affected by the fragmentation of their populations. Roadside verges can act as ‘wildlife corridors’ enabling plant and animal species to recolonise areas if left unmown.
  • Our wildflowers are needed as essential links in the food chain - Oxeye daisies support 8 species of native moth caterpillars and diminutive Birds Foot Trefoil supports a mighty 22 species of moth and butterfly caterpillars. Our bees are suffering too and clearly need flowers to provide essential pollen and nectar. These invertebrates then support birds, mammals and bats.
We really must be more imaginative and proactive if we are to conserve and promote wildlife in our county.

At a time when so much of our wildlife is under pressure, it would be imaginative and prudent to stop the mowing of roadside verges and central reservations.

I hope we can count on your support in this.

Rob and Jill Carlyle

Let's build a consensus and change the roadside landscape of Nottinghamshire - ‘Say No to Mow!'