Gardening is all about control – when to apply it and when to give nature free rein. A constant workload of pruning, mowing, snipping and shearing. But lately the whole concept has exploded as excitingly as an unexpected patch of a clover in a lawn with the idea of rewilding, in which land is returned in varying scales to natural habitats that can provide water, food and shelter to all creatures great and small. And its principles are now being implied to smaller residential spaces, too.
One of the most famous rewilders is Isabella Tree, whose book Wilding charts the transformation of the Knepp estate in West Sussex and became a bestseller when it was published last year. Over two decades, Isabella turned her 3,500-acre arable farm into a Mecca for wildlife, including turtle doves and nightingales, 13 species of bat, flocks of purple emperor butterflies, as well as free-roaming cattle. She removed fencing, allowed the vegetation to grow freely, and a richly diverse and wild landscape followed; ‘Sit back and let nature take the driving seat,’ Isabella says. ‘Learn not to be in control; we’ve got to relax and let go.’
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