• Cleaner Greener Wanstead

Survey reveals astonishing plantlife in Wanstead’s Grow Zone verges

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

A profound change is happening on highways across the county. More and more roadside verges are being left to grow through summer, creating mini meadows where insects can thrive, supporting the myriads of other creatures that rely on bugs for food. The Grow Zones project that started in Wanstead three years ago is now being expanded across Redbridge, increasing the number of road verges and park areas which are now being managed for biodiversity in this way.

To assess the impact of the project, botanists undertook a survey of the flowers and grasses in two Grow Zone verges in Wanstead. The long verge that runs down Nelson and Rodney Road has been unmown in summer for three years now and spans a range of different growing conditions. It was found to contain a huge number of different species of plant – around 90 in total – including Viper’s Bugloss, Cornflowers, Knapweed, Clovers and Goats-Beard. It’s a fantastic result for the Grow Zone initiative, as a greater diversity of plantlife will support a greater diversity of insect and animal life. The second verge evaluated is on the corner of Hermon Hill and Cranbourne Avenue. It is smaller and in its first year as a Grow Zone but was still found to contain nearly 50 species of plant, including a rare type of Hawkweed. Lots of insects were also spotted in the verges during the survey, such as types of bee, hoverfly, grasshopper, spider and damselfly.

There have been reports of residents complaining about verges not being mown in Wanstead. Hopefully this new data will help showcase just how important long grass verges are as a way to improve biodiversity in the borough, offering a lifeline for wildlife, particularly in areas where gardens have been paved over.

If you would like to see the lists of plants found in the verges, visit www.wildwanstead.org/grow-zones.

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