Save us from the council verge neat-freaks

The autumn squill, Scilla autumnalis, has bright bluebell-coloured starry flowers. It is rare in the British Isles. It is also tiny, so small that most people could easily clodhop straight over it without noticing how lovely it is. I nearly did just that when I went looking for it in Surrey last summer until a kindly local botanist helped me find it flowering away on a grass verge.

I went home pleased to have met such a minutely pretty wild flower. But a few days later, the kindly local botanist got in touch again, distraught. The local council had strimmed the verge where the autumn squills grew, and they were no more. He had even told them that they should leave this patch of grass until later in the year so that the tiny squills could set seed, but someone had cut them down all the same.

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