Have a Garden, NOT a Carpark!

4 Feb

I don’t know if it’s a sign of me growing old or what but I do enjoy gardening. I like to see a beautiful garden and I appreciate the fact that someone spends their time digging, planting seeds, growing plants, watering, feeding, placing fertiliser on the ground. spraying, watching and waiting to see if the plant or seed they have placed in the ground will grow. I enjoy pottering around in my garden as I find it relaxing, calming and therapeutic. I like to see the insects crawling around, hear the bees buzzing and the birds twittering. I like to see the abundance of colour and the buds on the trees or perennials. I enjoy seeing the flowers blossom…

However, I look around and become disheartened by what I see or don’t see anymore. I despair when I look at what is becoming of my city…

When I was a child in Birmingham, most of us had back gardens. It was almost a communal area. Women would hang out there washing and gossip over the fence, catching up on what they had seen or heard, men would use it to grow vegetables, have a cigarette, potter around or soak up the sun, or socialise with other men or friends. We’d have mini picnics or dine al=fresco. Children would use them as play areas. Sometimes we would pretend to be working in a cafe and use the the large dock leaves as plates, the long grass as chips and the stones or pebbles as various vegetables. Rose leaves would be placed in a glass of weater and crushed to make perfume for the girls; nettles would sting and there always was a dockleaf nearby to rub over the sting; the old saying was if you picked a dandelion, you wet the bed, but once the yellow colour disappeared and it became a seedhead, you could make a wish, blow it away and watch the “fairy” float away…

Today, I see more and more gardens being ripped out, slabbed over and made into either car parks, ports or if the garden is large enough, another plot of land for an extension or another property. Whilst all this is good and well for the increasing amounts of vehicles on the street, the housing issue and the fact that it all becomes very “low maintenance”, I do wonder how the so-called green environment that we are so desperately trying to save, is enduring mother nature being ripped up and cemented over. We are so absorbed in “low maintenance” with comments like “I need the space for my car” or “it’s safer for the kids…I don’t want them getting dirty/stung/falling over/eating grubs or shrubs etc…” or “I can’t be bothered with gardening and wasting money…” We seem to forget that we are also losing vital life supports and educational elements.
We hardly have any birds left like sparrows, blue tits, goldfinches, blackcaps and so on.
We hardly see many squiirels in the garden unless you are in a park.
Plants like crocuses, dandelions, poppie, pansies and bluebells are no longer seen growing haphazardly around like they used to unless they are deliberately planted or in a conservation/preservation area.
Most of the wildlife, even those categorised as “vermin” such as pigeons, foxes and squirrels, flora and fauna in the city is becoming or will become an endangered species. Birmingham is or was colloquially known as “The Concrete Jungle” but that was down to the much despised and derided Spaghetti Junction built in the 1960’s.

As a city today, in the 21st Century, we are becoming more and more in danger of becoming a proper concrete jungle as gardens quickly disappear and we lose all that nature has to offer. I’d rather see lush greenery and colour than blue/black/green bins. We’re supposed to be saving the environment, recycling and going green. How can we be doing that when the gardens are becoming black and grey with slabs, stones and grease/oil stains? A number of gardens seem to become dumping grounds for rubbish, neglected or a “waste of space”. Where is the pride, the idea to toil the land, the “competitive streak” to make the garden the best in the area, the area to relax in, the area to play with children and teach them about the insects, the biology of nature, the rough and tumble of play, the extra area to socialise in and soak up the sun rays, the relaxation? In a few years, if someone asked me that I’d probably say I’m sorry, it’s all gone…

No wonder Alan Titchmarsh wanted to start ‘Save the Front Garden’ campaign or there are initiatives to start birdwatching or competitions to be the best front garden or Council led initiatives such as Britain/Birmingham in Bloom. The Mental Health sector is encouraging gardening as a form of therapy to deal with or combat the various levels of daily stress and other issues…

I believe every garden is a piece of Heaven. To toil a small piece of land, to breathe in the fresh air, to appreciate all that nature allows is one of the greatest forms of therapy: one can create and actually see the end results.
However, at this rate, as modern humans become more selfish and lazy in their endeavours, we won’t have heaven or paradise on Earth. We’ll just be left with a large grey slab covered in dark stains, oil dripping from cars, no sound of birds or other vocal creatures, no colour on the land and lots of bins bursting with wasted food, empty bottles/glasses. paper strewn everywhere and no sign of wildlife.

Now, that would be a hell on earth…


The Learned Kat


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