6 June 2018
Jo Carter, Chair of Wildflower Lewes and Green Party District Councillor, is shocked and appalled by Graham Mayhew's attack on the wildflowers and wildlife verges across Lewes. Graham Mayhew has suggested that the Town Council revert to mowing the verges 4 times a year. Jo is concerned that Lewes Town Council is considering spending money on a more intense mowing regime that will destroy blossoming wildlife in Lewes.
Jo Carter and the community group Wildflower Lewes over the last few years have worked hard with the District Council and the County Council Highways department to make many of the verges and green spaces bloom with wildflowers. Wildflower Lewes has supported the councils in reducing mowing to encourage wildflowers. At the District Council, the project complemented a policy to stop using pesticides in our green spaces. Wildflower Lewes volunteers have helped plant wildflowers and monitor the verges and wildflower patches. Last year's monitoring found a very wide range of flowers including little yellow birds-foot-trefoils, bright blue vipers blugloss, and common purple orchids.
The group has also found that many people in Lewes are really delighted to have beautiful wildflowers growing on their verges. Jo says "We started a few years ago by asking people at local events to nominate places in town that they wanted to see full of wildflowers – and were astonished by the amount of positive support in Lewes for more flowers and more space for wildlife in our town. We'd love to see more wild verges in Lewes. Our town is so lucky to be nestled in the South Downs. With just a bit of love and care, we can bring the wildlife from the Downs into the Town so that everyone can have an orchid on their doorstep, and butterflies fluttering down their road."
Wildflower Lewes and other projects like it are springing up all over the district, including in churchyards and other green spaces.
Jo Carter says "The County Council Highway's decision to change to mowing twice a year was the right decision for wildlife and people, instead of shaving all our verges to within an inch of its life. If this mowing twice a year is supplemented with plug planting, and strimmed edges to keep it neat, we could have all the wildlife benefits and some neater and prettier displays of blooms that people can enjoy. As a group, we have been inspired by Brighton who managed to bring beautiful wildflowers into the centre of their town, with public support. Greeting visitors with wildflowers is surely the best way to welcome people to our beautiful town, and show we are a forward looking place that has learnt to live with our wildlife".