Sometimes something happens that makes me stop and wonder about some of my fellow humans. Maybe it’s an act of vandalism, the seemingly pointless destruction or defacing of an object, people who drop litter or those couples who park up in a lay-by and sit at the back of the car on fold-out seats eating their lunch as cars whizz past when they have just driven past a stunning beach, gorgeous lake or beautiful wood. I just don’t understand some people some times. Well I had one of these moments the other day.
On my way to the plot is a gate, once through this I turn right and walk along a small stretch of roadside verge before I get to the allotment site. Running along the verge is a hedge; the boundary to someone’s garden. It’s nothing special to look at, I guess, I’m sure most people walk and drive past it without a glance. Made up mainly of Rosa rugosa; only the other day I was admiring the beautiful pink flowers and the first big fat hips as they started to ripen. At the far end of the hedge was a big bushy shrub with large pink, feather duster-like blooms. I don’t know what it was. It wasn’t the sort of plant you’d necessarily want in your garden, lacking quite a bit of refinement but, here by the side of the road, it was providing a splash of colour and more importantly it, and the rose, were providing an important source of pollen and nectar for our struggling insects.
You may have noted my use of the past tense. Sadly, when I went up to the plot the other day I came across the sight of a hedge that looked like it had been butchered. Gone were the roses, the hips and the pink flowers, all hacked at by someone who either had no idea what they had done or just didn’t care. The hedge is a good 5ft from the road and it posed no problem to traffic. I did, initially, wonder whether it was the council, who like many other local authorities don’t have a great policy on letting plants grow. There was the story, for instance, of the council in Hampshire that cut down, before it had the chance to shed its seeds, the rare narrow-leaved helleborine orchid, not just once but 3 years in a row. However, when I got to my own plot I realised it wasn’t the council but the owner of the property the hedge bounds. The end of my plot shares a hedge with the property, too and it had been hacked at as well. The mess that was left was frustrating, branches strewn everywhere, some were still attached, but only barely, to the hedge. Hawthorn, forsythia and ribes all made for a really colourful boundary in spring and gave a certain degree of privacy to the plot from another of those infernal trampolines and wayward rugby balls.
I’ve now got to spend a half day up there clearing up the mess, cutting everything up to fit in the council waste bags and tidying up the hedge so it doesn’t look quite so dreadful to look at. I’m busy enough without having to tidy up someone else’s mess. But it’s less about this, frustrating as it is, and more about the thoughtlessness about chopping down plants that were important for wildlife. I’m not suggesting that plants don’t need some control occasionally but cutting it back in late winter would have been much better.
I am the only one who dreams of a utopia where everyone appreciates the natural world more and sees themselves as a custodian and not the master. I came across a couple of neighbours the other day scattering ant powder about their driveway. I suggested they just boil a kettle instead rather than use a chemical. They looked pretty sceptical so I saw no point in suggesting they leave the ants alone as they posed no problem.
Anyway, apologies for the rant. It looks like it might have stopped raining, so I guess I’d better get off to the plot with my loppers for a spot of hedge tidying.