With the pressure on natural environments from modern farming, roadsides are becoming more and more significant as repositories for certain sorts of wildflowers. Almost all of the substantial colonies of Early Purple Orchids in Indre et Loire, for instance, are to be found on roadside verges. Other plants, such as the gorgeous intense blue Meadow Clary, are declining and more and more dependent on the relatively stable environment of grassy roadside banks.
Since 2008 the Conseils généraux (local authorities) of the départements (counties or shires) around us have been modifying their roadside mowing in order to encourage and protect the more delicate and vulnerable of these prairie wildflowers. Likewise, these plants need undisturbed soil, so their presence has to be taken into account when doing any heavy roadworks.
It all amounts to a campaign to educate the public about the importance of roadside vegetation as a refuge for once common and ubiquitous species, as well as a welcome means of justifying a reduced mowing regimen, thus reducing road maintenance costs. It's a simple thing that will make a big difference and everybody wins, but in garden and streetscape manicure obsessed France it is quite a big step.