No Mow May a Buzzing Success

Greener Henley were pleased that Henley Town Council took part in No Mow May by not mowing some of the grass verges around the town to help our wildlife.  The proposal was put forward by the Council’s Conservation Warden, Lex Volkes.

No Mow May is a national initiative by Plantlife.  In addition to Greys Road and an area opposite Badgemore School in Hop Gardens which have previously been left to encourage wild flowers and increase nectar supplies for bees, there were four new trial areas this year – the Fairmile, along Reading Road, a small area on Deanfield Road (leading to Waterworks Lane footpath) and an unoccupied area at the Fairmile cemetery.

Diana Barnett wrote to the Council and copied in the Henley Herald.  “On behalf of Greener Henley I would like to thank you and the Henley Town Council Recreation and Amenities Committee for taking part in No Mow May this year. We feel you are all to be congratulated for participating in this important initiative to help our wildlife.”

“It was interesting walking around the town this year to see the numbers of local residents who left their green spaces, or parts of their lawns unmown. I also noticed that a lot of our neighbouring villages adopted the No Mow May idea too.”

However it was noticeable that the flora we had in May last year was delayed this year, due to the poor weather we had earlier on. I did see lots of varieties of grass growing though.  I wondered if your team made any observations about the wild plants which did grow, did Lex manage to do a flower count and send in the results to Plant Life?

I am hoping that you will think about supporting this initiative next year possibly getting the Henley children involved in making Bee Friendly signs or No Mow Scarecrows – that could be fun.

We at Greener Henley would be very interested in hearing your views on how you felt the experiment went. I was pleased to see that the initiative was welcomed and am thankful the council supported this effort.”

Lex Volkes replied:

“Some areas were by far better than others for flowers. Along the Reading Road, around the Tesco roundabout and along the allotment hedge was a very rich place for wildflowers. The wild geranium and poppy’s stood out from the normal buttercups, dandelions and daisies. The bumblebees appeared to choose the wild geranium over other flowers.

From the bus stop onwards the grass grew so thick and tall that low level flowers hardly got a look in. Some areas left to grow did allow for the Cow Parsley to thrive and flower.

The Fair Mile and Cemetery were by far the most outstanding areas of beauty. The Cemetery side of the Fair Mile was only really good for some Dandelions and some Cow Parsley under the canopy of the trees. It is rather shaded. Pyramid Orchids are plentiful on the Fairmile outside of the Cemetery by the benches and care was taken to leave these uncut when the grass was being mown.

In contrast, the other side of the Fair Mile exploded with flowers. Wild Geraniums mixed with the Alkanet was a lovely sight. Masses of buttercups and Daisies. I hope I have identified Mouse Ear Hawkweed correctly. Even some Pink Sorrel has made its way into the mix. Karl Bishop kindly allowed a strip to be left along the top of the ditch along the Fair Mile for a while longer to help the Pollinators. The Ragwort was beginning to grow too. A Cinnibar moth was spotted. When they are caterpillars they feed on Ragwort.

The far end of the Fair Mile Cemetery is still waiting to be mown. It is lovely to see from a distance large areas of yellow and white. The grass didn’t grow very thick and the flowers are winning there. When you get closer you can see the sea of Clover in flower. Hundreds of bees are making the most of this area and I’m pleased to say it is far from being an eyesore.

Another species I noticed around town was mouse ear chickweed and plenty of Plantain.

I hope we can do this again next year. I have identified some other areas I would like to see allowed to flower for longer and will try to add them for next year.