Welcome to our twice-yearly newsletter. We have a new tool to introduce to you, and some ponders to share.
The new tool is a serious piece of kit. The Atlas pick is a heavy-duty tool with a curved, wedged bronze blade. It is specifically designed to break new soil, whereas the other hoes, mattocks, spades and picks in the range are more suited for already-cultivated soil.
The first ponder is about connections within the land - or rather, within the piece of land that we know and tend, be it our garden, our yard, the allotment or some pots on a windowsill.
In the last few years there has been a fundamental shift in how scientists view the way the plant kingdom works. Take trees, for example. The old view was that woodland trees grow tall because they compete for light - and the strongest win. That view has been questioned. Researchers like Suzanne Simard have shown the level of co-operation, not only between species (she demonstrated how paper birch trees support douglas fir) but also between kingdoms. The fungi underground allow themselves to be used as a food bank. They store surplus nourishment for the trees in the good times and give it back in leaner periods. They also provide minerals which the trees can't access for themselves, and they act as a woodland communication system. The world in a woodland has been shown to be a distributed network, with hubs (the 'mother' trees) and links.
This is the diagram Suzanne Simard used in her TED talk. The darkest circles are the 'hub' trees, the paler ones younger trees. It looks like a diagram of the internet. It has been called the wood-wide web.
That was the preamble to my ponder. My ponder is - if that is happening in woodland, what is going on in my house and garden? How can I best work with this intelligent, caring, interconnected world?
One immediate response from us was to think differently about potplants. For a single plant in a pot, life must be like solitary confinement. So, nowadays we put more than one plant in a pot, or we make sure that their leaves are touching other plants nearby. And we brush the leaves as we walk past them.
A lot of good gardening practice makes sense in the context of the wood-wide web. If you take something out, put something back, whether it is a bit of compost or a sprinkling of fish, blood and bone. Minimum-interference gardening practices like 'no-dig' and permaculture are in tune with this view. The biodynamic approach sees the entire piece of land as a single entity, an 'organism'. That also makes sense. And of course, our view is that the bronze tools help. Copper is a connector. Like the fungi in the forest floor, it links things up. It's in our wiring. In our bodies, copper is to do with energy transfer. So at the very least, bronze tools should be less disruptive in the garden.
That was the first ponder. The second one is much shorter. It's addressed mainly to any garden designers who are reading this.
Where many of us live, traffic noise is a major issue. Noise bounces off hard surfaces, like roads and buildings. People need somewhere to park their car, so they block-pave their front garden if they have one: another hard surface. Plants are not a hard surface. Our house is on a main road where most of the neighbours have tarmacced and block-paved the area in front of their houses, so we have tried to plant to reduce the noise.
We have clematis, jasmine and wisteria growing against the walls of the house, for example. Wouldn't it be an improvement in the quality of life for all if this was explored and solutions were promoted. How about a front drive with parking as a show garden at Chelsea!
Wishing you a productive and satisfying gardening season,
Jane and Nigel
Implementations, Ansley Village, Nuneaton, Warks CV10 9PG
Tel. 02476 392497www.implementations.co.uk
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