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Whether you are driving down country roads or heading into cities, it is always nice to see the verges full of flowers. However, the number of roadside verges we see with flowers on has dramatically decreased over recent decades. We discuss in this article why they can be beneficial to communities and which plants are most suitable.
Bright, colourful verges can be beneficial as not only do they help with heavy rainfalls, they also are havens for wildlife such as bees, butterflies, birds and a range of other insects. They also maybe some people's only view of wildlife and nature on their drive to work. Lots of extensive studies have proven how being around beautiful nature can significantly boost your mood. They are also a habitat for many small animals to live in.
Over 97% of ancient wildflower meadows have been destroyed since the 1930s. There are over 700 species of wildflowers that grow on our verges, which is nearly 50% of our total flora in the UK. This shows the important part these verges can play in our ecosystem. Without them, both plant and animal species could be at risk of becoming extinct.
There are two main types of road verge in the UK
1. Enclosed verges are separated from their neighbouring land by a fence, hedge or other divide. These types of verges tend to be more high maintenance and need more upkeep
2. Unenclosed verges do not have a divide with their neighbouring land and tend to be part of farmland that animals can graze on. This type of verge is more common in hillier terrain.
Why do we not have as many verges?
One of the main reasons why there was a decline in road verges was because the land was managed differently. Originally, trackways were used alongside fields to transport livestock. Horses carry carts would graze on the verges which kept the grass cut whilst encouraging the growth of wildflowers. Once cars became more popular, the roads became tarmacked and "linesmen" were hired to control the verge rather than the livestock. This job was time and labour intensive, so the practice declined significantly in the 1950s. The responsibility of the land slowly started to be assigned to landowners and local councils. Motorised/mechanical mowers were becoming a popular choice as they were quick and low cost. This method meant that no seed was being put down and the wildflowers growing on the verges were disappearing. The grass cuttings were also left on the side of the road and this heavy thatch impacts the ability for flowers to grow.
The rise in cars and therefore exhaust fumes has also been put as a contributing factor to verge decline. Because the verges tend to be mown early, some spring flowers seem to be thriving and spreading, but summer flowering plants are struggling.
Here are some of our top picks for flower bulbs that are great for road verges:
Yellow Cheerfulness - Clusters of these ruffled daffodil flowers are great for roadside verges. They will add impact and brighten up any green space.
Unsurpassable - The large trumpets of these flowers look bold and bright on roadside verges and roundabouts
Pheasant's Eye - Thought to be one of the first daffodils cultivated in ancient times, the Pheasant Eye daffodil is stark white with a bright yellow/orange centre. They naturalise well, making them a great road side choice, especially if enough space is left for them to spread.
Uncle Tom - The rich deep red of these tulips appears chocolate coloured in some lights and will add a richness to any roadside display
Orange Favourite - Add some tropical vibes with these bright orange parrot tulips. The feathery blooms along with the colour will draw attention
Sphaerocephalon - These striking egg-shaped flower heads start off completely green and turn purple over time. They also multiply quickly.
Whitewell Purple - These purple beauties are perfect for large landscaping projects as they naturalise quickly and are extremely resilient.
If you need more help or advice on garden care, then please contact us. Boston Bulbs Wholesale is a privately-owned business with over 35 years' experience of importing only the finest quality horticultural products throughout Europe and from farmers and growers all over the UK. Whether you're a landscaper, nursery, local authority, wholesaler, retailer, private business or individual gardener, just give us a call on 01775 769 333 or visit / for help with flower bulbs, grass seed and more.