Many of our roadside verges are home to a rich variety of flowering plants which are starting to flaunt their seasonal colours. Looking after the High Weald's verges in the right way means we can all enjoy beautiful wildflowers and help the wildlife that depend on them.
You can see fragments of precious old landscapes on the verges in our villages, country roads and lanes. Pictured right are orchids on a verge in Mayfield. Some High Weald verges are hundreds of years old with a history as ancient drovers’ roads. Livestock once grazed these grassy margins on their way to market.
In spring, look out for verges which are remnants of ancient woodland. These are havens for bluebells, red campion, primroses, yellow archangel, early purple orchids, delicate wood anemones and the starry, white flowers of greater stitchwort and wild garlic.
Many grassy roadside verges have also escaped 'improvement' becoming refuges for meadow flowers. These are at their most colourful in summer and buzz with bees and other insects. Keep an eye out for pale pink common-spotted orchids, white ox-eye daisies and yarrow, purple knapweed, bird's-foot trefoil (or eggs and bacon because of its yellow and orange hues) and yellow rattle.
Undisturbed verges can shelter some of our rarest wild plants, including the woodland flower coralroot (Cardamine bulbifera) which is only found naturally in the High Weald and the Chilterns.
Community interest in verges is growing, prompted by increasing erosion from traffic movements. Additionally changes to highways maintenance schedules have offered town and parish councils more responsibility for verge management. Battle Town Council, Frant Parish Council and Wadhurst Parish Council are just some of the parishes we know are working to protect their valuable verges and improve them for wildlife.
We recommend Plantlife’s practical guidance on nature-friendly road verge management. Their ‘Good Verge Guide’ has been adopted by several councils and is used widely by local volunteer verge groups. Our Land Management Project Officers are always happy to offer additional Weald-specific advice.
High Weald land management advice.