We can feel beset by vandals. Walls get tagged with graffiti that has no artistic merit. Later in the year I hope to see good results from guerilla gardening on a wall near my place.
There was a bitter-sweet story locally last week. The preservation society for the long-lost railway behind our house, which would be doing good business today, decided to open up this subway under the trackbed – one of the oldest railway bridges
in the world, dating back to the early 1830s. It had been filled with rubble some 50 years ago.
Indeed they did open it up but it is less than 2m high inside, and deemed unsafe by the city council, so it is already sealed off with steel gates. However there was another reason for closing it off – to prevent its being tagged.
When the subway was built there was farmland at either end and the footpath led across fields to the farmhouse and on to the next village. There is the remains of an old hedge alongside the footpath which had an undergrowth of celandines at this time of year. Now it is barren, thanks to over-enthusiastic spraying of weedkiller by the city council’s contractors. There was meadowsweet in summertime too, for this path ran by a ditch, now covered over.
Celandines look like this, reflecting the sun. I won’t share the barren hedge-bottom with you. Maybe the contractors found it easier to kill everything rather than scythe or strim the nettles once or twice a year. Maybe I’m the only one who’s noticed, or cares. Maybe the wild flowers were too scruffy.
For the last two summers a bed of ‘wild flowers’ has appeared on the playing field that now occupies the bottom of the old farm. But they don’t look wild, just scruffy.
One good thing about student landlords’ laziness is that many wild plants stand a chance in their gardens, as these celandines do next-door but one. I hope you can see ladybird biedronka in there!
Celandines are dear to me as when I was little a kind teacher introduced them to me. I was away from my family, allowed just one parental visit per week, only able to wave from the window to my siblings, even having my Easter egg confiscated to be pooled with all the other children’s. Our crime was to have been ill. We were in a convalescent home. The fresh air was good, but there was no thought for our spiritual or mental well-being, except among the staff caring for us day to day. They did not make the rules.
The celandines were a promise of new life, outside the gates. Now they remind me of a greater promise of new life. Shame on the city council!