Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Wilding has started… (Jul20)

Yesterday, the diggers and dumpers arrived, along with the wonderful Andrew George and his fellow wilder, Lesley Malpas (Operation Future Hope).

Andrew George

When I’ve mentioned wilding people imagine it means animals like badgers and beavers. Actually, the focus will be on bees, butterflies and birds, along with the wild flowers, hedgerows and trees that will attract them. We’ll also be encouraging barn owls and bats… How come so so many things to do with biodiversity begins with a ‘b’…?

Although I’ve been an environmentalist for about 35 years, I don’t have expertise in ecology. But, I’m learning. And, it’s great fun. Andrew’s favourite plant is the Hemlock Water Dropwort, or it seems like that because it gets lots of mentions.

The most exciting thing is discovering parts of our land where we’ve never been. This might make you think we have a huge amount of land – actually, it’s about 9 acres.. But some of it has been hidden behind a wall of nettles and other ‘bully species’. Not quite the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Our pond is first in line for attention. It’s an old mill pond, but has become so silted up that it’s hardly there at all. We’re not actually changing the water flow, but we’re creating a series of pools and even a rock strewn water course. The brilliant thing is that we’ve discovered multiple springs, so there’s plenty of flowing water..

Pond in April 2020
Excavation has begun – July 2020
Lesley Malpas has helped get the project off the ground

One of the things I’ve noticed is that almost everyone has an opinion on wilding – and it’s not always the same. Some people are adamant that you need to have grazing livestock, others that this will make the soil too rich. Some people are strippers – taking off the top soil. Others are adamant that we should be keeping our tops on…

I’m not sure where I stand, except that I have total faith in my advisors. They seem to know what they’re doing and have come up with some creative and wonderful ideas.

One of my favourites is ‘hen henge’. This is a couple of chicken houses, erected on a mound. It means we can see the chickens, whilst protecting them from predators…

Design for ‘Hen Henge’

There’s going to be a lot going on with the wilding. So much so, that I’ve decided to do some vlogging about it, as well as blogging. We’ve already started filming. We’re also planning some mini films. Lesley from Operation Future Hope will be helping with this, along with Jo Haywood from Skylark Media.

This is my inaugural wilding post and my wilding column will have it’s own section on the front page of my website. Let it flow.

Please do send in questions, comments, opinions… If I can’t answer (probably not), others can…

Opposite the house, this field is being transformed into a ‘water meadow’. The pond is below the big tree on the left and will become a series of ponds and pools..

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