A return to ancient memories

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Have you seen an old house with a garden which has not been tended for decades? writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services)

Trees have taken over where once there would have been immaculately kept lawns, flower borders and vegetable patches.

This is no accident. It is as if the land holds ancient memories of when it was wildwood away back before humans walked here.

Back then lowland Scotland was covered in native deciduous forest. Even now that is the natural state to which our land will return whenever we stop tending it. First the annual weeds will establish, particularly the ones with wind blown seeds. Bird droppings will introduce bramble seeds. Tree seeds parachute in. To use the proper terms from ecology the garden becomes an example of natural ‘succession’. Succession is the ordered way in which early colonising plants become shaded out and out competed by ever more dominant plants.

These gradual changes return the land to its original wooded forested state.

Even in our own gardens it is all too obvious if we are busy and unable to attend to the weeding for a couple of weeks. It is easy to see how Nature would take over if left to Her own devices.

Though we may not realise it, all of our gardens harbour an ancient instinct to turn themselves back into ancient wildwood.

You have taken your first steps into ecology, the study of how our natural systems work. I encourage you to look deeper, it is fascinating stuff. Ecology rocks!