Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Gardens and non-gardens and the whole hedgehog thing










gardening on a tiny strip above the river

a close-up - this is right above the river

summer house? whatever it is, I love it

















green-veined white butterfly
Photos from a weekend wander in the Cotswolds. Check out the lovely allotments right in front of the church. I shouldn't mind to garden there, it would be very calming I think.

I love all the old clipped hedges and trees against the stone. Gorgeous. We found a tyre swing over the little river which appeared to be held up by a dodgy bit of string. We stuffed the littlest boy into the tyre and swung him out in grand style while the biggest boy yelled, "It's breaking, I can actually hear it breaking." We got him off without incident. I think at least one of our number, who shall remain nameless, would secretly have loved the string to break. The river was only about a foot deep and a couple of feet below, so it wouldn't have been too dramatic, as plunges into rivers go.

I've been looking back at the pictures of houses and lovely gardens and sighing a bit. Our next-door neighbour's garden is a sea of gravel, and over the past few days the people next to him have had their entire rear garden paved as well. There is not so much as a blade of grass left. I have been standing at an upstairs window gazing out at it all. While our garden isn't brilliant, it is still fairly full of wildlife. Together with the neighbours on the other side it is a block of every shade of green. Different trees, shrubs and blooms, a wildlife pond, a couple of nest boxes and birds, birds everywhere. Then there are the other two gardens. My heart aches for it all. No place for wildlife there at all.

To my way of thinking we have a responsibility when we taken on a piece of land, however small, to  care for it and the creatures that depend on it. We can't just take it all for ourselves and leave them with nothing.

To top it all, the middle boy and I found a dead hedgehog on a nearby road yesterday evening. It really rather upset me. The poor hog was no doubt wandering around looking for somewhere nice to be and all he could find was roads and paved areas. Even the better gardens tend to be inaccessible. None of the children have ever seen a live hedgehog, except a rescued one at the Wildlife Festival. And I've only ever seen one, when I was a child. We had a really long garden, and all of the gardens in the street were separated by two strands of wire, one about a foot off the ground and one about a foot above that. Hedgehogs could wander all over the place happy as clams.

We entered our sighting on a couple of websites that record hedgehog numbers ("Log your hog"). They even like to know about dead ones as it gives an idea of how many are out there. Apparently hedgehog numbers have fallen by a third between 2003 and 2012 alone. There were an estimated 36 million in the 1950s, now less than one million. A Guardian article suggests that the decline is due to habitat loss, poor management of hedgerows and fragmentation of habitat due to new roads, housing and other developments. A casualty of the world we are creating.

A final grumble - I discovered that one of the amazing and immaculate plots down at the allotment site is kept that way by frequent and liberal applications of weedkiller. It shattered my illusion I can tell you. So many creatures live down there, feeding from the plots. There's really no need for it.

Anyway, that's it. I shall keep my chin up and keep doing my bit. CJ xx

27 comments:

  1. I love coming to your site and visiting your lovely photos. My favorite today is of the eggshell. We don't have hedgehogs here. I remember seeing a little family of them at my Uncle's in a suburb of Paris when I was a *cough young lady of 21. They were so cute. I have always been fond of their appearance, even collecting their image in bookmarks and stickers etc. It saddens me to hear the one you found recently was dead. It saddens me more of the news of the declining numbers.

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  2. Beautiful tour of the Cotswolds. Mum and I love visiting. Well, you'll be pleased to know that I share your ideas about a garden being for nature - as well as us. I have wild areas where we never venture. As a result last summer we had three families of hedgehogs. The baby hogs were so beautiful. I really hope they come back here again. I never use any sprays of any kind. There are loads of weeds, but nearly every bug or butterfly needs some sort of plant, so everything has a use. I too have visiting children. Who have never seen a hedgehog. And have never eaten an apple straight from the tree. That really surprised me. All the best. Karen

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  3. Cotswold Cottages are the best. I do sympathise about your concrete neighbours. It is happening more and more just to make their lives easy and work free. They will be the first to complain when our wildlife diminishes and species become extinct. Hope you enjoy the rest of your holidays with sunshine but a little bit of rain at night please. B x

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  4. I'm with you on your grumbles... it's all so sad :(

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  5. Every time we go to the Cotswolds I suffer garden envy, they just have the perfect climate. I don't understand people who pave over their yards. We're old and live on nearly an acre yet we take care of the yard. When we can no longer do it we'll hire a gardener or move.
    That's so sad about the hedgehog.

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  6. So sad when someone puts in all hardscape. Luckily here in the South (USA) almost everyone is proud of the green. Unfortunately, a lot like to use weedkiller to obtain them. Our yard has trees, bushes, a garden, and we have birds, rabbits and squirrels. The Hubs isn't keen on the wildlife sometimes, especially when they are pulling up the new plants or eating all the nuts on the pecan trees. But he doesn't really mind.

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  7. Your photos are just gorgeous, CJ...and the subjects extraordinary. I want to visit the Cotswolds!!! England is on my Bucket List because I figure I can't screw up the language.

    Very sad about your surrounding homes making bad choices in their landscaping. On the contrary, here in the city, blocks of Chicago have such competition in 'curb appeal' (making your home look super attractive to passerby's, and keeping up with your neighbors. Some homes can be very sloppy. Others, like my next door neighbor, so fussy that she will pull the slightest weed or pick up a random leaf off her lawn!

    I have seen some hedgehogs near our lakehouse. We live across the road from a very wooded area with ponds and swamps. We have a variety of wildlife...coyotes, deer, beavers, hedgehogs, mink, opossum, raccoons, you name it. I only worry when they venture into our area, and some do depending on how hungry they may get. The only time I get bothered is when I think of my small(er) dogs being defenseless. Sadly, we see some dead along the highways after they've ventured out at night. I'm sorry I've been so blunt and slightly morbid.

    You write wonderful posts that bring up much conversation. You asked how the writing is going. I am very frustrated with the editor of the more largely circulated newspaper I write for. Hard to know what he thinks of my column and I so hoped I could learn something from him. Well, I guess I just have to be happy for the opportunity to expand my horizons, fill a portfolio and maybe, in a dream world, be discovered!! The New Yorker???? Ha!

    Jane x

    Jane x

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  8. Beautiful photos. I do love the Cotswolds - such gorgeous honey stone. What a pity about your neighbour's choice of garden - if you can call it a garden. We see the odd hedgehog in ours but, sadly, not nearly as many as when we first moved here 18 years ago. What a sad world it would be without the humble hog. Glad that the tyre swing didn't prove to be more dramatic! xx

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  9. Wow, you have the most beautiful stone buildings in your area, I just drooled over each photo! I would love to visit your wonderful country so much. I have a lot of English blood in me.. would like to see where we come from. I just googled and there are no hedgehogs in the USA. But a friend of mine had a pet one.. they sure aren't very warm and fuzzy!! Have a super weekend. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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    1. Warm and fuzzy comes in different ways Teresa. I found a tiny baby hedgehog on my parents lawn after Midnight Communion on Christmas Eve. Dad thought it was a dog turd! I took it in and got it warm, it was almost frozen to death and weighed so little it didn't register on our scales that started at 1/4 0z. It was amazing watching this tiny creature grow and teaching it to hunt for it's own food. Finally released back into the wild at an overweight 2lb. Deliberately let it put on weight so that it would have a better start on it's own. That was def a warm and fuzzy experience. We need all kinds of things in life for a rich balance spiky and fluffy :-)

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  10. Arghhhhh! Is it the allure of low maintenance? Thank God for you and your garden, CJ. Perhaps a leaflet drop listing wildlife friendly plants suitable for pots and what they attract is in order down your road? Might just get folks thinking. We do see hoggies here from time to time but I know their numbers are dropping. Such lovely little people xx

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  11. Lovely pics as usual. Only hedgepig I've seen as an adult (just turned 40) was a baby I rescued 25 years ago, successfully reared and set free. I live in a ground floor flat with no garden but heaps of plants in pots which includes hedging plants no weedkillers. I'm disappointed with your neighbours though sadly not surprised in a street of 200 houses only 4 have any plants. The other 3 like me are ground floor flats with pots. I'm horrified by the allotment news, I thought that if you had an allotment it would be because you cared about growing things, about life and were more organic. I wish there was a ban on weedkillers/bug sprays on allotments

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  12. Beautiful part of the world - very groomed! Ah, yes low maintenance gardens. Ours was pebbles and a few curated shrubs when we moved in. It is no longer but it took a lot of effort to get rid of all that stone. Are you neighbours elderly? I noticed around here the paved gardens are those of the very elderly, frail. Maybe they have nobody to help them with an unmanageable garden. There are of course those that need all paved for their gigantic school run tractors. Don't let me go there, I can feel anger bubbling up... For work, I have just been reading up on ecosystem health and how biodiversity is linked to human health in many ways (my latest area of work, One Health. Fascinating. Best to google the term, I may otherwise get carried away and write a whole blog post here). The only hedgehog I have seen in the past 10 years was dead. I do hope there are pockets of land with happy hedgehogs.
    Sam once plummeted down a hill when a rope swing broke.... Wishing you a good weekend. xx

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  13. Not long ago we could look out of our windows and see lots of hedgehogs criss-crossing our garden and often witnessed hedgehog battles but now see few of them. New housing hardly provides a garden space. It's such a shame.

    By the way I think water in a landscape creates my favourite subject for landscape photography.

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  14. CJ, have you read, "The Hedgehog's Dilemma" by Hugh Warwick? I think you would enjoy it.

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  15. Lovely pictures. I agree with all you say about putting gravel or paving over gardens. Sadly I really can't remember when I last saw a hedgehog in the wild, and again agree with all you say. I despair of people who do that on allotments, there are several on my site unfortunately. xx

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  16. Your pictures make me want to get on a plane and head directly back to the Cotswolds. I was there in the fall of 2013, and fell in love with the area. I'm hoping to be able to do a walk through the Cotswolds at some point. I was aware of the decline in the hedgehog population. It's another depressing example of not thinking about the long term consequences when we change the natural environment. The good news is there does seem to be a growing awareness of the declining hedgehog numbers, so hopefully things can be turned around before it's too late. The fact somebody is using weed killer at the allotment is maddening.

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  17. Gosh what wonderful photos. Do tell where you were in the Cotswolds.

    The whole paved garden thing makes me very sad for life in general really. Everyone seems to work such long hours and juggle so many things now that there doesn't seem time for the simple pleasures like gardening or feeding birds or watching flowers grow. I have been inspired by CT to make my wee patch more wildlife friendly. Needless to say, it's work in progress!!!! xxx

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  18. oh CJ. honestly, this sort of thing makes me all throat-cloggy and irate, all at the same time. i feel alarming surges of wanting to inflict violence upon stupid, unthinking people. WHO paves over their garden?! go and live in a sodding flat if you don't want to deal with a garden. well, you know how i feel. i'll stop now.

    on the brighter side -- those are gorgeous photos. i have a friend on Instagram whose house has lovely stone walls around the garden...i tell her i have wall-envy. i also have nettle-envy....but now i also have Cotswold wall-envy. *sigh* is there anything lovelier than an old stone wall festooned with greenery and blossom?

    xoxoxo

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  19. Such a pity about the dead hedgehog and it's a shame that hedgehogs aren't appreciated for being the good friends that they are, munching happily on the slugs that destroy our veggies and flowers. There was a campaign a while ago (can't remember when) asking homeowners to cut a 'hedgehog door' into their fences if they have them so that the hedgehogs can travel. How disappointing that weed killer is being used at your allotments. Hope you are all well CJ. Jane xx

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  20. Wonderful pictures. The mellow tones of the Cotswold stone and the vibrant Spring greens, beautiful. I cannot understand why people pave over their gardens, it makes me want to shake them. The world has enough problems without destroying nature and our immediate environment. When I was young we regularly had a family of hedgehogs living in the hedge at the bottom of the garden, sadly I haven't seen a hedgehog for many years now.

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  21. Lovely photos. Surely that lovely building overlooking the river must be a Knitting Tower? at least that's what we call them in my house (wishful thinking maybe...). Fortunately I only know of one person on our allotment site who uses any chemicals, the rest of us are all organic gardeners.
    Your post has reminded me though that it's a long time since I saw a hedgehog. Time to do what I can to encourage them I think.

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    1. Yes! You're absolutely right, it is indeed a knitting tower, I love that. Great that your allotment site is mostly organic. CJ xx

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  22. Paved over gardens? Oh, dear. That hasn't become a trend where I live (in the Midwest of the US). In my city, homeowners pay a stormwater fee to help maintain our storm sewer system. The city does aerial surveillance of our yards, and stormwater fees are higher if you have impervious surfaces. That is good incentive to keep things natural. Of course some people go crazy in the other direction and have meticulous lawns maintained with liberal application of weed killer, which is just as bad, in my opinion. In our community gardens (equivalent of your allotments), we are not allowed to use chemicals.

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  23. I hear you CJ.
    It is a sorry sight to see gardens lost and to think of wildlife decline. I was watching the 70's version of the Railway children and the ting that I noticed was the amount of birdsong you could hear. I don't think we hear as much as that today.
    I've joined my local wildlife trust this year. It makes me feel a bit better to think I'm supporting their efforts.
    Jacquie x

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  24. Such beautiful honey coloured stone houses.Mostly brick houses round here which isn't the same! So sad about the hedgehog. Younger daughter found a young one on the path by our house a few years ago now. We took it in and fed it cat food for a day. Daughter was on a mission to save it and rang round several places before finding a rescue centre not far away. Hopefully it went on to live a happy life.

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  25. paved gardens are the worst, no wildlife and no drainage. I don't know people can live without at least a little bit of green.

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