I am starting a new lifewide learning inquiry called Pathways to a More Sustainable Future. It will run from April to September and I am using my Garden Notes blog to curate the way I help, nature and the environment and what I learn from the experience. In this first post I set out an ambition that provides the focus for my pathway to a more sustainable regenerative future.
The question of what inspires us and why? interests me. To take on a new project that I know will be time consuming, require a lot of physical or mental effort and be costly requires a special sort of motivation. In October 2022 I participated in a webinar offered by Surrey Wildlife Trust. One of the contributors Louis Harrington-Edmans, a conservation Officer with Buglife, gave a talk on B-Lines – short for biodiversity lines.
He explained that since the 1950s we have witnessed a rapid decline in the populations of pollinating insects and wildflower meadows. This loss of biodiversity can be directly linked to the intensification of agriculture and increased use of pesticides and herbicides, and urbanisation. B-Lines are an emerging solution to try to reverse this decline in biodiversity by creating a UK network of 3km wide corridors in which new wildflower habitats are being created to help pollinating insects flourish. In fact my local B-line lies within the Surrey Hills and its southern boundary runs a few metres my house!
My immediate thought was I can get involved in this and make a contribution. I love wild flowers and for the last three years we have not mown a big area of our garden to let the wildflowers grow – which they do in profusion. Here was a good reason to expand what we were already doing in the interests of nature. But I could also see how other people would think that this is a good idea and would want to contribute so I put the idea to my co-volunteers in the RE-Betchworth action for nature, the environment and sustainability group and they also thoout it was a good idea so we formed a small team to take it forward. This is how one thing leads to another!
In my previous post I described a pathway I had constructed in the woods. With the B-line idea in mind I added some sides and filled them with soil and compost and planted 250 wild garlic and 250 bluebell bulbs and ina few weeks I will sow woodland wildflower seeds.
I have now started a second B-Line project which will take most of March to complete to turn a strip of the paddock into a wildflower meadow. I began a week ago by digging up some turf with my grandson and stacking the turf into a low mound. I began a week ago by digging up some turf with my grandson and stacking the turf into a low mound. It really is ‘back breaking’ work and progress is very slow. Two things sustain me. The first is the thought and feeling of what this will eventually look like when the seeds I sow grow into wildflowers. I think that what I am doing will be worthwhile both at an aesthetic level and at a practical and scientific level in terms of helping nature. The second thing relates to creativity… as I dig up the turf to expose the subsoil, what seemed at first to be random diggings began to morph into a pattern with intentionality and having established a pattern my mind and body are engaged in extending the pattern. After several days of slogging I can begin to see how what I am doing will look when it is completed, with curved pathways, bare soil for the wildflowers and a couple of flowering cherry trees which I will place on the mounds. As I was digging I decided to add two small trees in memory of my first wife and my second wife’s husband both of whom died 23 years ago. In doing this I realise I am adding new layers of meaning to this patch of land.
This is the first entry of my Pathways diary that will record my actions for nature and their effects on me and nature.