Working with SSSI sites (Sites of Special Scientific Interest)
All the images show a SSSI Alder-Carr woodland that formed an extensive boundary to an estate property that I designed and managed. This was an important landscape not only for the reason that it is in itself becoming rare, but for a plant that in the wild is rarer still Aconitum (monks hood) a plant that is toxic. This beautiful plant finds the wet woodland the perfect habitat to thrive in. It can be seen in early spring when young growth emerges from the margin of wet and almost soggy ground, in fact in many places from beneath the standing water.
Where does gardening and countryside management diverge. The garden is a special place, but although thought of as more intimate and much more controlled and managed, it is still nature and it is very much still a landscape driven by the seasons and the weather. Estates and estate gardens have the luxury or the curse of having extended space to develop and to manage. This wetland of some 12 acres was vital to the estate and the landscape as the wet woodland acted as a sump and filter for the trout lake just a few hundred yards away. Fringed and fed by a swift flowing river that was itself an extension to the SSSI, it ran for some three miles and developed into a further wetland on the site of the British Telecom Earth Satellite Station at Madley. This to I developed and managed. As a horticulturalist all landscapes overlap, all that is different, in effect, is the scale. Our countryside has been badly neglected since 1945. Development, in all but a few places such as Scotland and the landscape of the north has eroded and in some places buried the extensive wild tracks of land that could have been considered ‘wild’. The horticulturalist, the gardener must look to the native British landscape for inspiration, and must as surely look to become a guardian of plants and nature on many scales, large and tiny.