The Beginning

Date: 3 November 2018 | Weather: Partly Sunny, 13°C

A group of us on the island have decided to take on the care of an island road. We have begun by using hand tools to cut back invading brambles, a good provider of food for us, of course, as well as for insects and birds, and abundant on the island and in no danger of extinction. We are just going to prevent it taking over the verges and crowding out more delicate species.

We will cut back other invaders, such as blackthorn that is beginning to hide parts of beautiful old walls, and also gorse and bracken. Then in December when all the flowers have died, we will mow the verges to help prevent the grass from taking over. Another mowing will probably be done in late winter/early spring for the same reason. The grass will be removed so as not to improve the fertility of the verges, and will be piled in a nearby field to supply mulch next summer (some of us on the island are growing our potatoes under mulch in the no dig method), and emergency seed and insect feeding stations in case of another harsh winter. We are shaking out dried seed heads as we work slowly, observing, learning and recording as we go.

Most visitors to the island never stray off the roads so don’t see the wild and beautiful places we islanders know, though of course some of those places, unlike the road verges, will be affected by grazing animals and possibly fertilizers and worse.

By contrast we hope ‘our’ road will be a wild flower and grass strewn delight, inhabited by pollinating insects, butterflies and bees and foraging birds, as all the island roads could be.