It’s April and all around us the greenery is exploding, lifting our spirits after the wet and windy winter. Among that lush verdancy are lots of wildflowers on the verges of our roads. Gardens are full of flowers too but the best blooms for our native insects are the early wildflowers that offer them a welcome boost in spring. Our insects are in trouble. Numbers of our most common ones are down by large percentages.

Every year just as the sight of verges full of dandelions, stitchwort, Jack in the hedge, violets, bluebells and orchids makes me smile, the sound of the dreaded council contractor mower makes me mad.

Having complained on a number of occasions, last year I was informed, not for the first time, that if I know of places where there are rare wildflowers, and I do, that I can place sticks in the ground which will notify the contractors not to cut there. This is impractical and ineffective. I suggested that the officers create a map which indicates where such flowers are but that is too sensible for them.

This stick suggestion also misses the vital point about the need to leave all wildflowers standing. While the odd spot with some orchids or ragged robin will miss the blades, the rest of the verges will still get shorn to smithereens. Verges are important wildlife corridors and all native wildflowers are vital in helping wildlife to spread.

The reasons these verges get mowed of course is to enable drivers to have better visibility. And, as I was informed, it means pedestrians have somewhere safe to stand when a car needs to pass. I object in principle to being asked to stand on the verge. Car drivers ought to slow down for pedestrians and move past them with care.

There are other reasons why pedestrians may not want to move onto a verge. Like many other Ceredigion residents, I volunteer to pick up rubbish that other people can’t be bothered to take home and dispose of properly. Once the blades have cut the glass bottles, metal cans, dog poo bags or worse, litter-picking becomes a nightmare. Asking pedestrians or their dogs to step onto such a verge is unacceptable. So another suggestion I made was for a register of volunteer litter-pickers in the county and that these would be informed prior to the contractors coming out to mow. That was deemed too much work for the council staff.

A solution has to be found. First of all it involves recognition of the importance of wildflowers, not just on the roundabouts of Aberystwyth but all over the county. They need to be left to set seed before they’re cut. The cut greenery should be removed as much as possible to lessen the richness of the soil. That way more wildflowers will appear year on year and less grass, making it easier and cheaper to maintain in the long run. On the main roads only one metre should be cut. That message has to be made clear to contractors who are too keen to slash every bit of grass in their sightline. These contractors need to be trained as I doubt many of them can tell a cuckoo flower from a red campion. Our minor roads don’t need such a severe trimming. Surely half a meter is enough. If it forces drivers to slow down, that is of benefit to all other road users.

Ceredigion County Council, along with other Welsh councils, ought to help wildlife, not aid in its destruction. And cutting down on unnecessary mowing will cut our council tax bills.