Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thoughts on the future


I have just finished reading The Ash and the Beech, by Richard Mabey. Mostly the book ranges widely over our human attitudes to woodland over the centuries and our current confliction between 'natural' and 'artificial' (do woods really need to be managed etc.). It made me reflect, of course, on quite what category the Square Metre falls into.

My purpose in constant intervention is, perhaps, to preserve perspective - the short and the longer views, a hole in the Universe. But apart from that what happens, happens: I trim and weed to the minimum necessary to stick to my purpose, but I do not plant or sow anything or introduce fauna.

It is important to me to preserve a sense of ease, of connection to everything else that is there, to let species interact with each other as well as with myself. It is a space to reflect, to meditate, to achieve calm, balance and a sense of proportion in this troubled world. My intercessions are only to achieve and conserve these ends (il fine giustifica i mezzi - falsely attributed to Machiavelli). But there is no end. If I am no longer able to visit, the vegetation will close over and TSM merge back into whatever surroundings the future holds. Like the Hovgaard Ridge microcontinent below the waters of the North Atlantic between Greenland and Spitsbergen, its place in the sun will have gone and it will lie hidden among the many millions of other square metres comprising the surface of the Earth.

And, of course, if the Earth should one day explode into an ever-drifting and dispersing cloud of stardust there will be no co-ordinates to determine where the Square Metre might once have been. There will no longer be any ‘where’.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The picturesque?

I have been reading The Ash and the Beech by Richard Mabey (Vintage Books, London. 2013).

In chapter 3 Mabey explains the importance of John Evelyn in promulgating the idea of planting trees as opposed to natural regeneration. Mabey comments "But as a philosophy, a policy, woodland creation was regarded as faintly eccentric and probably unnecessary. Why waste energy planting trees, when, since the time of the Creation, woods had done it so very successfully themselves?"

DSCN3134 trees

The picture above from the Metre and its immediate surrounds makes this point.  There are 10 trees in the foreground of the picture, though some are difficult to see.  The obvious ones are, from left to right, hornbeam, birch, sallow, birch again and ash.  In addition there are oak, holly, hazel and hawthorn.

All these have appeared of their own accord, unaided by me, though they do, to a certain extent, have to be protected from rabbits.

I am struck too by how much TSM now looks like woodland with its bugle, ferns, lanky grass and, of course, the trees.

There are now several baby common hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna) and they seem to have done particularly well over the last year.

DSCN3136 Hawthorn seedling

Mostly the bugle is doing well too, but some plants are not so vigorous and have their leaves mottled with yellowish.  I suspect this is a virus of some sort.

DSCN3138 bugle virus