Those familiar with the distinctive post industrial habitats of south Wales valleys will have no doubt witnessed the steady re-grooming of the landscape. Just like a visit to the barbers, washed away is the ruffled and dishevelled hair style created by the hands of successive industrialists, in favour of a more modern day Vidal Sasoon look. In places the unkempt Just for Men style has been combed back into place with the slickness of 1970's Brylcreem advert, giving parts of the landscape a Mallen Streak air of respectability. But if you want to see wildlife at its best go now to the areas where the curly perm, mullet and pony tail survives. Seek out the fringes of road verges where the short back and sides of highway management is less achievable and the botanics grow to collar length.
Here in amongst the discarded drinks bottles, ubiquitous wheel trim and condom wrapper are flaky patches of baldness where the vegetational competition is reduced and the bee orchid takes a hold. No medicated treatment here to neutralise the legacy of chemical variability allows acidic loving plants to rub shoulders with those of a more calcareous nature. Kidney vetch whose long peroxide golden locks sway in the wind as a car rushes by, or the punked up dyed purple hue of the tightly cropped small leaved thyme. Blue fleabane, fairy flax, southern marsh orchid, moonwort and assorted grasses and sedges all grow unrestrained, enjoying the freedom of a more relaxed cutting style. Yes, biologically rich habitats can still be found but be quick as they won't be around for long. But ensure you look for the patches that have avoided the Bobby Charlton comb over treatment or Wayne Rooney re-thatching!