NEAR my home is a 'Weirdworld' hedge as odd as anything in Alice’s Wonderland.

On the east side of this hedge, butterflies and bees meander and buzz over a feast of late summer wildflowers. Red admirals, red-tailed bumblebees, peacocks, fritillaries, carder bees, common blues, brimstones, mason bees and hover flies.

On the west side is monoculture monotony. On the east side of this hedge, those who own the land are paid to do nothing. So they leave the land to itself and a carpet of wildflowers pulses with life.

On the west side of this hedge, those who own the land also do nothing. Even though they are not paid. But instead of a creep crawl riotous rainbow busy buzz of winking wings over pretty petals, the land is silent. How can that be?

We all feel the threat to the natural world now. After a long summer drive, our car bonnets are no longer spattered with bugs.

We know that since 1970 farmland bird populations have plummeted by over 50 percent as their food has disappeared. We used to love watching David Attenborough nature films, but now we hesitate. Where are the happy films he used to make? We feel a sad ache in our hearts.

So here is my fantastic news. My Weirdworld hedge is a problem we can fix. Easily.

What I have described is just one of a thousand hedges that flank our rural roads.

The side of the hedge with the flowers, butterflies and bees lies along a field edge.

It exists because farmers leave a swathe of land unfertilised and free from pesticides around their fields in order to protect wildlife.

They leave it because EU law, developed with the cooperation of all the nations of Europe, decided it is worth paying farmers to make space for wild things.

They’re right; Defra Pollinator Strategy published back in 2014 estimated that pollinators added approximately £600 million to the value of UK crops.

The problem area is the roadside verge side.

Until a few weeks ago I thought the city council was the bad guy; I thought local government was hacking the wildflowers in full bloom, preventing them from setting seed and depriving insects of food. But it’s not the council cutting and flailing and strimming 90 percent of the verges until all that’s left is a drear carnage of green. It’s us: residents, landowners and farmers.

I’ll bet we aren’t harming the countryside on purpose. I think we have simply not put two and two together. In fact I think that we believe we are simply keeping nature tidy. Out of habit. But the reality is that our tidying is suffocating the very countryside we cherish.

When we get upset about dandelions, deciding that their bright blooms offend our eyes, when we worry about weeds and flail the daisies, poppies, ragged robin and rose campion, we are killing bees by depriving them of food. Isn’t it ironic that we pamper flowerbeds because we love colour but rip out wildflowers for being untidy?

Some of the verges along York’s roads are up to eight metres deep. Imagine how many millions of trees, wildflowers and pollinators they could sustain if we changed our approach. Instead of watching biodiversity retreat to the point where even naturalists are struggling to find it we could help it flourish here across our city.

If we leave the verge alone we can all become David Attenboroughs, walking along and talking softly as we go.

“Here in the wild vergelands of York these fascinating insects must make the most of the short summer nights just south of the Arctic circle. The red-tailed bumble bee rushes from flower to flower along Elvington Lane gathering pollen for her pups, while the tortoiseshell hurries to build up those vital fat reserves that will help him survive the long polar winter.

“Foraging beneath the dead poppy heads is the lesser-spotted hedgehog, erinacerus europaeus. Pesticides in local gardens have forced her out of her comfort zone, obliging her to hunt for insects along this dangerous highway. Night falls quickly here on the equator and she must fast feast in order to return to her waiting chicks.”

So instead of mowing everything in sight to satisfy the urge to tidy everything, to the point of cutting verges we don’t even own, let’s work together to nurture biodiversity. What fun we will have and what pride we will feel if we protect the wild world on which we all depend!

Councillor Christian Vassie is Chair of the climate change committee at City of York Council