14 years ago she and her husband bought a large Essex field with pylons marching across the horizon, just beyond their far boundary. All around are fields blitzed by chemicals and drilled to agricultural precision with waving heads of barley and corn. No headlands. Sterilised by spray to ward off all insects and birds.
They sprayed the whole area off and began planting hedges and copses of trees. Yesterday the trees were looking pretty fine and well grown but it was a shout for the grasses and wildflowers. Because the land is poor, the wildflowers are flourishing. The grasses have not got the opportunity to spread and swamp all else.
They only used one sack of wildflower seed for the 40 acres and left many areas completely bare.
14 years have seen the wild flowers sneak back in – and every year the mix gets richer. Scabious and bee orchids have arrived for a first time this summer. It was the moment for seeing and matching up names that I have only read about before – Bethany, Black Medik, Bird’s Foot Trefoil. We sat in the middle of the meadow and had a picnic and luxuriated in the place. We were not alone in this. The insect life was incredible – butterflies, moths and a even a swarm of bees in a bramble patch. I reluctantly got up to go home and the friend to ring the local bee club to collect the swarm.