This is an editorial from Oxford City Councillor and cabinet member for zero carbon Oxford and climate justice Anna Railton.

May is finally here, bringing warmer weather, longer days, and more time outdoors with friends and family.

May is also the start of No Mow May, an initiative created by Plantlife that sets us all the challenge to avoid mowing our lawns during May in order to support biodiversity.

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Mowing your lawn less often can actually help provide enough nectar for ten times more bees, butterflies, moths, and beetles - proving that even the smallest actions can help to make a difference.

Alternatively, if leaving your whole garden to grow isn’t your style, why not just mow the edge of your lawn, so you’re still supporting biodiversity.

It’s not just gardens that can benefit.

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According to The Wildlife Trusts, grass verges are home to approximately 700 species of wildflower – that’s almost 45 per cent of the country's plants.

Unsurprisingly, many councils are now letting their grass verges grow long to promote biodiversity.

As the city council, we manage most roadside verges in Oxford on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council, and we have been trialling long grass verges on a number of roads across the city since 2021.

During this time, we have been learning the best approach, and listening to the feedback from residents.

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One person I wanted to highlight in particular is 12-year-old Isabella Mann, who discovered Bee and Pyramid Orchids on Abberbury road roundabout in Iffley.

Last summer, Isabella passionately brought the orchids to our attention and spoke up to protect them.

I want to use this opportunity to say thank you to her for raising awareness about these orchids and for being a voice for the climate in Oxford.

I am also pleased to say that we have a new approach to grass cutting in the city, and will now be mowing roadside grass verges just once a year to help protect plants and flowers like Isabella’s orchids.

Shorter grass verges might look neater, but they are not the best environments for plants and wildlife to thrive.

Cutting grass verges annually, allows more time for plants to grow, flower and their seeds to shed – which is vital for encouraging wildflowers.

And we are not alone in this approach.

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We are part of a wider programme by Oxfordshire County Council to cut grass verges annually, and we are seeing similar approaches from other councils across Oxfordshire.

It is very promising to see how we are all supporting biodiversity during No Mow May and beyond.

I am looking forward to seeing what plants and flowers will bloom on our roadsides in the upcoming months.