Monday, 17 August 2015

Increasing Diversity of Life, The Cambrian Way

So, in the next few weeks we will be leaving our first family home, a first floor flat in Valley Green, Woodhall Farm, to move to our first owned house, with a garden, on Cambrian Way, Highfield.

The locality names paint a picture of a rural setting, but I'm in fact talking about the town of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. With a population of over 90,000 it is one of the most highly populated towns in Herts, & part of the Greater London Urban Area.

As towns go, we are lucky that even the most developed areas are green, the roads lined with trees, & neigbourhoods scattered with small parks, woods & wild areas of 'waste' ground - all great for supporting urban wildlife. But, the habitats with by far the greatest potential for supporting a myriad of species are much closer to home, right on our doorstep in fact... our gardens.

Across a town gardens create an incredibly diverse patchwork landscape of varied habitats, territories, shelter, food-plants, water, & eco-systems, & that's even before we take any steps to making them more wildlife friendly. Take a look at what birds see when passing overhead by looking at where you live on Google Maps satellite view - you'll see that the urban areas are much 'greener' that they appear at street level & more inviting to wildlife that you could have imagined.

Having an inquisitive, two-year-old boy who loves the outdoors & all of the creatures it holds, & being passionate about nature & conservation myself, the prospect of finally having our own garden is very very exciting.

The idea for our medium-size garden is to encourage nature to thrive wherever possible, with a dedicated wild area where nature can get on & do its thing, but also to have areas suited to outdoor dining, entertainment & relaxing, playing & exploring... eventually. We will be working with a low budget as funds will have suffered after buying the place, & this is where creativity is key. We will essentially be starting from scratch, with a blank(ish) canvas, because apart from a few shrubs & a mutilated conifer, both front & back gardens are comprised mainly of gravel, concrete & rubble flattened into the mud where grass once grew.

The concept of encouraging wildlife to start to appear in the garden at Cambrian Way from very little is quite apt, because as the geologists & paleontologists among you will know, the Cambrian period was the time when the first ancestors of modern day animal life began to occur, around 541 million years ago.

Pikaia gracilens (fossil), the first vertebrate, & ancestor
of all fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds & mammals,
appeared in the Cambrian period...
...see the resemblance?

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