Making a difference

Guest blog by Karen Liebreich MBE

Abundance London is trying to fight off the despair engendered by the steady drip of catastrophic environmental news (12 years before climate change reaches the point of no return, 60% of global wildlife liquidated over the last few decades, climate extremes in the UK commonplace, air toxicity at illegal levels in London, etc etc) with a few local initiatives. While these projects merely tinker at the micro-edges of what we actually need to do to save our environment – local as well as global – they are at least a positive step in the right direction.

On 26 November we will be planting 203 trees in Harvard Hill Park. Two hundred tiny saplings supplied by the Woodland Trust to create a shelter band along the back wall of the park, below the M4. And three redwoods as feature trees. Don’t panic – the football area will be left intact! The kids from Falcons and Grove Park Schools will be helping us with this, along with – hopefully – lots of extra people (you!) to get the trees in the right way up, attach tree guards and mulch them properly to give them a good start. In future years the hope is that this habitat will support a return of the sparrows and hedgehogs that we have almost managed to wipe out from Chiswick. Meanwhile the three redwoods will maybe one day be visible over the top of the elevated A4 and passersby will admire them. This project is being organised in conjunction with London Borough of Hounslow’s parks’ department and Lampton Greenspace 360.

Photographs above: Tiny trees waiting to be planted / Geraldine King, head gardener at Chiswick House Trust, supervising bulb sorting / Planting a little roadside meadow

Last week our long-term plan to get all the roadside verges in Hounslow transformed into wildflower meadows came a minuscule step closer. The contractors dug up a bit of scruffy grass on the corner of the A4 and Sutton Court Road and sowed a specially prepared mixture of wildflowers, along with some bulbs. This is a pilot study, aimed at persuading council, contractors and residents that this can look good, benefit wildlife and be easy to maintain. The days when municipalities had the budget to close mow every lawned verge are gone, and the days when we thought this was a good thing are also gone. As we turn our cities into concrete, these tiny spaces become increasingly precious for our insect life – which in turn means our birds, and ourselves. This project is being organised in conjunction with Hounslow Highways.

Also last week our volunteers joined with the staff of Chiswick House to pot up 5,500 spring bulbs for the Piazza Project that will transform the grotty open space on Turnham Green Terrace into a beautiful area. We intend to reclaim that space, where FMConways blithely plonked workmen’s cabins for nearly three years, and make it once more into a space that will be a pleasure to pass through, or to sit in and enjoy. At the same time the new flower bed should provide delight for us and bio-diversity for insects. 1,400 crocuses, 1,000 grape hyacinths, 1,000 purple drumstick alliums, 850 creamy scented narcissi, and 1,000 delicate tulips were potted up in a mammoth work session to be over-wintered at the Chiswick House Kitchen Garden, ready to go out next spring. We couldn’t have done that without the help of the Chiswick House team, led by Geraldine King. The Piazza Project has been made possible by S106 funding from the London Borough of Hounslow, plus extra funding from the sale of our Chiswick Timeline books (available at Fosters Bookshop on the High Road – go buy, great Christmas present!).

And at the Chiswick Area Forum next week (13th November) we will be asking our councillors what else can we do locally in Chiswick to improve our environment and try to stave off our looming global catastrophe. They just better not say ‘more car parking.’

Karen Liebreich is a co-founder and director of Abundance London

Read more about Karen and about Abundance London

See our profile of Karen Liebreich here

Read a feature about the work of Abundance London here