Grass Verges and open green spaces
LATEST NEWS!! The charity Plantlife is encouraging local authorities to improve management of their roadside verges and the wild flowers they contain. Their campaign is called ‘Flowers on the edge’ please visit their website for a mine of information on why this is important, phots and info about all the speices and more…
Mowing too frequently prevents plants from setting seeds and removes valuable sources of nectar and pollen.  Gardens and public green spaces, including road verges, can play a major part in helping biodiversity and creating ‘Living Landscape Corridors’. Grass verges do not need to look untidy, not cutting quite so frequently allows the flowers to grow which can make a big difference. These photos taken in Ashtead in June 2012 illustrate how the plants can grow. I counted 10 difference types of flowers  including white and pink clover, and vetch. The bees were enjoying foraging for nectar – we can also enjoy the beautiful wild flowers and watching the pollinating insects at work!

Ashtead Pond is going to get a make over later this year (2013). The Mole Valley plan is to dredge it and take out all the rubbish etc,  including the terrapins if they are still in there. The silt will be used to build up the edge nearest the road to make a reed bed, this is needed to filter the pollution from the road. They also want to make a viewing platform, tidy up and replant.


 Transition Ashtead supports all initiatives that will help with increasing Biodiversity in our own gardens and across the public green spaces in the village. Please contact us  if you would like to get invloved to find out what projects we are planning or running, or if you have a project going and would like some help, or  if you have any ideas we would love to hear from you! Our projects include:

  •  Promoting ‘Bee Hosting’ – where owners of suitable gardens can ‘host’ a hive for a bee keeper (and get their own free honey!)
  • Liasing with MVDC and SCC to encourage wildlife and insect friendly management of the grass verges and green spaces in the village.
  • Promoting organic gardening methods and highlighting the reasons why we should not use peat.

Bees, Butterflies and Blooms BBC2, was a 3 part series, February 2012

Sarah Raven examined the plight of insect pollinators and their alarming reduction in numbers worldwide. She looked at what we can do here in our gardens and the countryside to help reverse the decline. Our food security is at risk as we depend on healthy populations of bees and insects as pollinating insects are vital to the production of the vast majority of our fruit and vegetables.
One of the councils she vsitied was Harrogate, she persuaded them to try a different wildlife friendly planting scheme, planting more perenials for nectar and pollen, and leaving grass areas un-mown. To see more about it and what happened after the cameras left: Harrogate in Bloom The reaction from the public was generally very positive, particularly when they could see the new borders humming with bees and insects, and looking so fabulously colouful throughout the seasons.  It should inspire us all to do as much as we can in our gardens, allotments, and the public green spaces here in Ashtead.

Example of flowering meadow on a central reservation main road into Brighton

 Brighton have for many years been planting verges with wold flower mixes. The results are beautiful, and likely to be rather more distracting for drivers than normal!
Water Butt Connector

Now all I need is rain!

I have to share with you this genius way of linking together water butts which requires no drilling or expensive connector kits (£8). Take a length of hose to reach to the bottom of each water butt, immerse the hose in the full butt, put your finger over one end and move that across into the other butt. It creates a siphon so the water will flow from the full across to the empty butt until the levels are equalised. As the rain fills up one, it will siphon across to the other. You can connect as many butts as you like using this method – ideal for the allotment.

Biodiversity in Ashtead

Woodfield – a site of Special Nature Conservation Interest

The Woodfield is a small open space managed for the benefit of the public and nature conservation. Situated less than a mile from the centre of Ashtead, it is lies on the edge of Ashtead Common, a site of national significance.  Owned by Mole Valley District Council since 1988, the recent management has been tailored towards increasing its landscape quality and value for biodiversity.

Why manage for biodiversity?

All wildlife is important and each species of wildlife relies on others to survive.  They also need somewhere to live and something to eat.  It is sometimes easy to forget that the birds that many of us enjoy listening and watching rely on insects that live in long grass or rotting wood.  By improving the conditions for wildlife the diversity of species is improved, creating the knock on effect of improving the quality and diversity of a site.

What’s special about The Woodfield?

Designated as a site of Special Nature Conservation Interest the area contains a high diversity of species two, of which feature on the draft rare plants register for Surrey.  The site has also been planted up with willow along the south-westerly boundary in keeping with the 1870 OS map which shows a line of trees in this area.  The trees will be pollarded on a cyclical basis which is not only an historic management practise, which has been much used on the common, but also has the advantage of creating a new future habitat for specialised deadwood invertebrates.

As part of the Council’s efforts to increase the biodiversity on its sites, areas of long grass have also been set aside at Ashtead Recreation Ground.  These areas allow grasses to seed, providing a food source and a habitat for overwintering insects.

The majority of the grass is cut after seeding and is harvested by a local contractor.  This method of management results in the removal of nutrients from the site creating the nutrient poor soil that sustains and maintains meadow grasses and wildflowers keeping invasive species in check and supporting many other species.

Alexander Bagnall
Tree and Countryside Officer
Mole Valley District Council


Bee Hosting

I am sure you know how vital honey bees are for the pollination of plants and how our own food production is dependant on having healthy colonies of bees. Bees have been under increasing stress in the last few years and many hives have suffered ‘colony collapse’ for no apparent reason which is still being researched.

One of the issues is finding enough good sites to keep the hives; the Epsom Bee Keepers Association is currently looking for suitable gardens in this area.

We are ‘bee hosts’ and for the last year have kept two hives in our front garden (not visible from the road). It is fascinating to learn about the bees and bee keeping and they have been no problem at all. I don’t see them much in the garden as honey bees need bulk food sources, eg trees, large fields of lavender, rape fields etc. and they will travel up to five miles to get food. We do see them drinking from the edge of the bird bath and of course flying to and from the hives.

We have not been stung at all, but we treat the hives with respect and are quite careful not to mow or make any loud noises too close to the hives which can disturb them. I can thoroughly recommend being a bee host – it is most rewarding, better than keeping pets and has the added benefit of providing us with pots of our very own honey!

When considering sites for hives, think about these points:

  • Will the site cause a nuisance to neighbours or the general public?
  • Is there convenient access with minimal carrying for the beekeeper to bring in equipment?
  • It is essential that it is out of the public gaze.
  • Consideration must be given to public footpaths and your use of the land.
  • An experienced beekeeper will visit you to assess the suitability of your site.

If you are interested in becoming a ‘bee host’ please contact Catherine: click here to email or have a look at the Epsom Bee Keepers website