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Leicestershire verges: Blue hearts to boost wildlife

By Neil Heath
BBC News, East Midlands

image copyrightSteve Poole
image captionWooden blue hearts have been popping up in gardens and on verges

Blue hearts will be placed alongside urban roadside verges in Leicestershire as part of a campaign to encourage wildflowers and boost biodiversity.

The Blue Campaign, which supports the rewilding of gardens and council land, is working with Leicestershire County Council to create "wildlife highways".

About 50 plaques will be put on land across the county's towns and villages.

The authority said the wooden signs will help explain why some grassed areas were being left to grow.

Earlier in the year, the council had developed a scheme for parish councils to create wildflower verges following requests on social media.

About 12 parishes joined the programme and, ahead of lockdown, groups of volunteers committed to the project.

image copyrightSiobhan Woodward
image captionA verge in Thurnby is populated with poppies

Betsy Gorman, Blue Campaign's conservation officer, said it was "very exciting" and showed an "amazing commitment" from the council.

"If allowed to rewild and cut less frequently, green spaces have the opportunity to support greater wildflower varieties and grass height variation," she said.

She added that verges can be "brilliant connective habitats for wildlife".

Blake Pain, deputy leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: "By becoming the first council in the Midlands to join this fantastic campaign we have made it clear that this council is prioritising the environment."

image copyrightSiobhan Woodward
image captionA verge in the Leicestershire village of Thurlaston before it was left to grow
image copyrightSiobhan Woodward
image captionThe same verge in Thurlaston is full of wildflowers

Bradford-on-Avon Town Council, in Wiltshire, has been working with the Blue Campaign since 2019.

Dom Newton, council leader, said: "The blue hearts show that the wild areas are not accidental or messy. There is a concept behind them."

image copyrightAmy Rayner
image captionCouncil say the hearts indicate the areas have not been left accidentally

Projects to allow verges to become mini meadows have been taking place across the UK over the past few years.

In 2019, Rotherham Borough Council was praised for its "river of flowers".

image copyrightAlan Benson
image captionCampaigns to allow verges to become "mini meadows" have happened across the UK

What's so special about verges?

  • Conservation charities such as Plantlife, the Wildlife Trusts and the Blue Campaign, say keeping verges wild increases biodiversity
  • Wildflowers encourage greater abundance of pollinators like bees and butterflies
  • If long grass is established it can provide homes for overwintering beetles and spiders
  • Long and short grass can also create highways for different small mammals
  • Verges can also provide food and resources for different bird species

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Related Topics

  • Wildlife
  • Conservation

More on this story

  • Why are England's roadsides blooming?