This is a great piece that appeared in today’s The Guardian, by the editor of Britain’s Permaculture magazine, showing the process and results of 24 years of transforming a wasted, ruined, denuded landscape into a complex and diverse paradise for all sorts of species, including, but not limited to, human! P.S. especially good for kids.
Years ago, before our children were born and after two years of searching, my husband Tim and I found a dilapidated flint cottage up a lane on the edge of a semi-rural village in Hampshire. Its hideous ‘60s back half extension with no foundations was capped by a flat roof in dire need of repair … and the garden was the size of a handkerchief. But it overlooked fields and was near a footpath that led to semi-ancient beech woods and the South Downs Way. Its advantages meant we were in a beautiful location, and its disadvantages meant we could afford to buy it.
Our dream of having a bit of the adjoining field at the back of the house to extend the garden soon materialised in 1990 when we were offered the opportunity to buy a part of it. We begged and scraped together the cash and became proud owners of a third of an acre of bare, flinty subsoil that had been degraded by intensive farming and regular exposure to the elements. Our first job was to secure and build the soil, so we planted it up as a wildflower meadow bordered by a hedgerow made up of 23 native species, all grown from native Hampshire seed stock. The soil was poor and wounded like a scab. Nature quickly covered it with wildflowers, initially mainly ribwort, used as an ancient herbal remedy to heal infection and staunch cuts. Very appropriate.