Busy doing nothing
As the city has grown quieter, there is also much action on my street. My neighbours have started all kinds of DIY projects, including work in their gardens. I can feel restless too at times. As a gardener it is tempting to be forever tinkering: pulling a weed from a path, reshaping a shrub, moving a plant...However, it’s equally important to be able to step back and do nothing. Wildlife gardening is often about letting nature be. In Manchester it is assumed that a third of the city’s green spaces is made up of private gardens (based on My Back Yard research project by Manchester Metropolitan University). So it’s easy to see the importance of personal responsibility towards maintaining wildlife habitat. Manchester City Council and the Wildlife Trust are now in partnership to develop and protect biodiversity through their My Wild City project, including spin off initiatives such as My Wild Garden, which encourages people to take action, but also to stop certain practices to help wildlife, such as the use of herbicides and pesticides. Across the globe there is a movement to stop the use of herbicides - not only on health grounds but also because of its impact on biodiversity. Trafford Council, following a motion last year by newly elected Green Party Councillors, have decided to ban the use of the herbicide glyphosate on Council land https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/apr/05/uk-councils-weedkiller-cancer-link-monsanto-roundup. In a private setting, the use of herbicides can rarely be justified, unless you are tackling a particularly invasive species like Japanese Knotweed. Another non-action is to just let the grass grow. Plantlife, the UK conservation organisation campaigning for the protection of wild plants, has launched No Mow May to encourage householders to ease off on the lawn mower and let longer grass and wild flowers (that means weeds) grow for the benefit of insects. This is not going to be an easy task for the lawn obsessed, particularly as our consumerist world has propagated the myth of the perfect grass. When doing a Google search for ‘insects and lawn’ or ‘insects and grass’, simple words with no positive or negative connotations, the results are all about pest control. So much so that I then did a search to see whether Google had investment in pesticides companies. But let’s not go down the conspiracy theory garden path in this post. No Mow May is not just about doing nothing, people can also get to know their lawn and count wild flowers as part of a citizen science survey to be conducted between 23rd and 31st May. https://www.plantlife.org.uk/everyflowercounts/ Finally, with the time saved on slaving over a hot mower, I urge you to read Brooke Jarvis’s beautifully written and well documented New York Times article on insects extinctions https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/magazine/insect-apocalypse.html. As we are learning that it’s the microscopic things that rule the world, we need to show our appreciation of all little creatures.
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All photos and artwork are my own.