The twentieth century saw a sharp decrease in the variety of wildflowers in the UK, leading to the threat of extinction for 87 wildflower species. Allowing wildflower meadows to flourish within urban settings brings a number of benefits, including an exceptionally attractive plant diversity that will help our population of pollinating insects.
Lewisham Council have been trialling a new management system regime for grass verges that are nature friendly with the aim of boosting biodiversity in the area. The grass verge on Friendly Street has been chosen as one of a number of sites that have been allowed to grow so the area can be surveyed for species. There will be one annual mow, that will allow plants to set seed before they are cut. The trial began in May 2023.
Having let the verges on Friendly Street grow, it was recognised that some additional help to improve the plant composition. With advice from Esther Wainwright- Deri, Lewisham’s Ecological Regeneration Manger, Friends of Friendly Gardens and the St John’s Society organised a community planting event.
Our local councillor Stephen Penfold turned up to help us on the day as did a local business, Wicked Gardens who dug at record speed, meaning we were able to complete the verge in one morning. They also provided us with additional seeds. The species of plug plants we were advised to use came from a company called Naturescape. The N6 clay soils collection was chosen due to the soil type in this area, the 10 species that arrived included:
We have done a mixture of plug planting and seed sowing as an experiment to see which works best on this site. Some cleared plots have been planted with plug plants and some sown with seeds. A native seed mix was used for this. To try and reduce the dominance of the grass along the verge yellow rattle seed was sewn alongside the cleared areas with a little raking of the soil. Let’s hope that the area remains clear of litter and we have a beautiful wildflower meadow in the spring. Thank you to all the people of St John’s who turned up to help on the day.