Hugh Warwick
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Jun 16, 2022

A slight tangent to start this update.

Let me introduce you to Isabella. She is 11 and one of the sparkiest kids you will ever meet. Her family is part of the group that manages three allotment plots we have turned into an orchard - now made famous by George Monbiot in his new book Regenesis (which is amazing, do read it). 

When she is not cartwheeling around the place or engaging in water fights (summer, at last!) she cares deeply about nature. Two years ago she saw two flowers on a small roundabout near where she lives. They were orchids, one pyramidal (in the photo) and a bee orchid too. They really caught her attention - but she was worried the council would come and mow this patch of grass and kill the flowers before they had a chance to go to seed.

So, she wrote to them, asking them to take care. When I was working in the orchard last Saturday she told me about the orchids and how they were there and how they must have read her letter. I arranged to meet her (and family) there the next morning, where I took this happy photograph. A real sense that, whoever you are, if you take the trouble to ask, you will be listened to ...

Monday morning the council came and mowed the roundabout. An entirely unnecessary action - no obstruction of view, it is a very quiet road. Isabella was heartbroken. I met her there again, took a photograph of her looking justifiably sad and went home to put that on social media (with permission from her and family, of course).

Little did I know what a ruckus that would cause - the tweet I shared (where you will see more photos) has been viewed over 900,000 times as I write, Chris Packham has picked up the cause, the Daily Mail have written about it ... and local councillors are now working to try and solve this problem, to stop it happening again next year. It will not happen next year, I am sure. 

Isabella, me and her family, are looking at ways to make sure mowing is done more sensitively. Plantlife has information to guide councils into more friendly (and cheaper) habits! 

So what about hedgehogs? Well, right near where this roundabout was mowed there was a great mass of bramble, comfrey, nettle, and much else mowed right down to the ground - right up to a wall near a path. There are hedgehogs living around here. This was PERFECT hedgehog habitat. Hedgehogs have no fight or flight response, so will simply have rolled into a ball when the mowers came (birds and frogs will have hopped and flittered away). Every year wildlife rescue centres receive distressing casualty hedgehogs that have been slashed with a strimmer. 

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has been running a campaign to get councils and other land managers to mow with care. There is a Roll of Honour of groups that have signed up to check first. 

We need a nationwide change in the desperate and destructive desire for tidy verges - we need to end the cult of tidiness. Of course where drivers might have their view obstructed, action will be taken, but the presumption should be to let it grow - let the seeds fall and let life burst out again next year.

Thank you for listening! If you can throw a few coins my way to help keep me going, that is much appreciated - BUT please - do not feel obliged.

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