So much to do

The last few blogs have concentrated on our natural world mainly trees. But if we want a future for our planet and especially for our island we need to do a lot more. I am very aware of noise and air pollution as I live by a main road with bus stops outside my flat. Very handy when you want to use the bus but annoyingly noisy and smelly when you don’t. When I moved here I did not know how much traffic uses this road, buses, lorries delivering to the shops a bit further down and many cars including the cars owned by young men who try to make them as noisy as possible.

There was a lot of small industries here in the years past, shoemaking and brickmaking and many other small industries. The stream at the bottom of our garden was often polluted according to the locals but apart from shopping trolleys and rubbish dumped in it, it seems quite clear. It runs into a large lake system in the nearby valley. (Nene Valley). Recently the lakes and rivers have been flooded and this of course pollutes them with the runoff from the land some of which is still farmed.

Water pollution is high on the list of things that need to change but nobody seems to want to invest in the machinery which can clean the water. The water companies prefer to give their shareholders lots of money instead.

I recently got an email about a Peoples Plan for Nature. I downloaded their ‘brochure’ and found it extremely interesting. It states the following:

‘The People’s Plan for Nature is a UK-wide initiative powered by the National Trust, the RSPB and WWFUK. It is a unique collaboration with the UK public to protect and restore
nature in the UK.’

It makes interesting reading and I hope that some of it’s ideas become reality. There is a long way to go but we must keep trying and fighting for our natural world, all of it.

Trees and more

Spring is on the way, The trees are showing buds and tiny leaves and the blackthorn is in bloom. It really brightens the day and helps me to deal with the horrible news about tree felling in many places. As was reported recently by the Woodland Trust ‘“#MatureTrees are not replaceable with a sapling. There seems to be no appreciation that the starting point for regeneration or redevelopment should be designing around the nature that is already there.” – Andy Egan, Head of Conservation Policy.

I totally agree with that statement. But many who plant saplings by the roadside to stop the soil from moving and to act as windbreaks, never look after the saplings and many die. What a waste of money and saplings. I had a sapling last year and it was put in the grounds around the complex where I live. The muntjac nibbled the nice new leaves until my son and I put a protective cage around it. But however much I watered it last summer the drought and extreme heat killed it. It will be replaced by a buckthorn but not until the buckthorn is able to withstand all kinds of weather.

It seems that councils are starting to fell trees over night unknown to those trying to protect the trees. I have seen this done before when a whole row of trees disappeared over night in the town where I then lived. Yet trees are so important to us, without them we could die. There are many reasons why they are so important and here are a few ‘Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife’. They also provide places for us to walk and enjoy the outdoor life and help to prevent mental illness.

I have just been out to fill the bird feeders and went to look at the stream that runs along the bottom of the complex. There are very old willows there as well other small trees and quite a large blackthorn. The stream is the highest I have ever seen it and is rushing along looking very muddy. But the trees soak up the excess water and stop the area from flooding.

So be aware of what your council plans for it’s trees. Make sure you protect those you have and get more planted.

Wildlife gardening and hedges

Hedges are another natural growth that are being destroyed like trees in the name of progress and new houses. In my previous home I had a large old hawthorn hedge separating my garden from the ones at the back. It was around 9 feet high, 3 feet deep and about 18 feet long. It was wonderful! The birds loved it and made nests in it and the chorus of their singing could be heard down the road. I miss it but I have compensations where I live now. I live in a block of flats, one of six and we have lots of grass around us and a stream running along the bottom. Many of the residents have tiny borders with flowers and shrubs and some grow veggies in pots and bags. I have a small patch of garden about 12 feet by 2 feet and this is good. I also have lots of pots and grow veggies in bags sitting on a pallet. This morning I saw a muntjac running along by the top of stream.

My aim with the garden patch was to attract bees and butterflies as well as dragonflies from a pond over the back. So plants were put in that attracted bees, verbena, rudbeckias, heleniums and many others. I also have spring bulbs and plants like cowslips. Last year it was buzzing with bees and a lot of different butterflies made visits. My son and I also took over a wild patch and planted it with wild flower seeds. It was good last year but promises even more this year.

You too can have some wild flowers or flowers that attract bees in your garden. But what if you only have a small patio or balcony. You would be surprised what you can grow in pots! You can also now buy packets of wild flower seeds and kits for planting which include pots and compost. Watching the bees and trying to identify them can give you great joy. There are many different bees but I like the buff tailed ones best.

If we are going to lose trees to housing developments (see previous blog) then we all need to do something to make sure we can provide places for the bees, butterflies and other insects. In a small garden you can also get frogs. Because I could not have a pond in my last place, I bought a small kit that came with a bowl, compost and a few plants. This did well and the birds loved it too.

What can you do to help the environment?

Houses, trees and TPOs

I have lived in many places during my time here on earth and have seen many different forms of housing. Many towns and cities have had tree lined streets and still have these. I remember walking as a child down into town on a wide road with large trees on both sides. These are still there. I lived in another town where council housing was built with trees lining the street. Oak Road had oak trees, Lime Avenue had lime trees and so on. I look at the style of housing currently being built. We went from large manors, villas and rows of two up and two down terraced houses, to lots of semidetached houses and some detached ones but now we have new estates of what are called town houses. These are the modern form of the old terraced houses. Many have no garden but have paved parking spaces.Small saplings have been planted in small open spaces but this is nothing like the tree lined roads of old.

Trees can have preservation orders TPOs, placed on them.So what is a TPO? ‘Tree Preservation Orders (or TPOs) are placed upon trees that have been assessed and identified as having ‘amenity value’. They are put into place by councils and can protect either a single tree or a group of trees on land within their authority.’ My son and all his neighbours have large trees in their gardens all with TPOs. ‘A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a legal tool to prevent harm being done to trees. It makes it a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy protected trees without prior written consent from your local authority. It also creates a duty to replant a tree removed without consent.’

This last couple of weeks there has been a group of protesters around a beautiful avenue of ancient lime trees at a local beauty spot by the river. (all the trees have TPOs) I went to chat to them on Thursday and offer support. The embankment as it is known is a wonderful place to walk. There is a playground for children, picnic benches and a small kiosk selling hot food and drinks. Lots of swans and ducks too. The space is open and the trees wonderful. A new housing development on the edge of town, wants to cut down these trees to enable a new roundabout and road to be built leading to the new development. There are already problems with this new development as the sewer fractured and now the sewer pipe is above ground. Imagine looking through your windows at this huge sewage pipe outside. One of the roads leading into the nearby town is already showing signs of widening, Trees have been cut down and a digger was there on Thursday clearing the undergrowth.

Back on the embankment some trees have already been cut down but with help from other important people, the felling has been stopped and a proper public consultation is going to be held. Plans will be available for the public to see and comment on. Some trees many still have to be cut down but hopefully not very many.

So many questions is this; what is the point of a TPO if a developer comes along to build houses and wants to remove the trees? The original permission for this was in 2015 but times have changed and the cutting down of these wonderful trees seems to go against what the current government is planning to do in the future. Money talks though!

Here is a photo of some willow trees by the car park