Scrub, scrub, marvellous scrub!

Bramble flowers are as ubiquitous with the British countryside as the blackberries that form from them in the autumn

Bramble flowers are as ubiquitous with the British countryside as the blackberries that form from them in the autumn - Credit: Groundwork South

Scrub, scrub, scrub - no, we’re not talking about washing here.

We are in fact referring to areas of bramble, nettle, blackthorn and so on, that take over areas on the margins of fields or green spaces, where it can provide a refuge for windblown litter.

These areas can often be thought of as unsightly and encroaching on what we may refer to as ‘useable’ space. 

It may trespass on productive land, may not be in keeping with the aesthetic of a garden or planted space, it may smother other more desirable plants and once established it can spread relatively quickly and become problematic to then remove.

Yet areas of scrub can also provide us with food, with blossoms and colourful foliage and the calm that comes from spending time in any green space – whether managed or ‘wild’.

Nowadays many people forage for pleasure, collecting blackberries in autumn for pies and crumbles, sloes for gin and elderberries for wine or cordial.

Yet those who have parents, grandparents or other family members that lived in Britain during the Second World War may be familiar with tales of acorn flour, rosehip syrup or other foodstuffs that came from wild crops; wartime rationing driving families to supplement their meagre pantry goods with berries, roots and nuts from the countryside.

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There is a happy medium to be struck though – wild growing. A way to manage areas that means we benefit from native, wild crops but can plant other food plants or trees like apples, raspberries, gooseberries and so on, in the same area to create a kind of ‘forest garden’.

Groundwork South is working with the community in Kings Ash, Paignton, to look at sustainable management options for Westerland Valley, which would enable wildlife and residents to benefit from the space and flourish side-by-side.

There are areas that could provide the perfect wild growing space, like an unused overgrown area or a hedge that could be allowed to grow out. The conversation can only grow from here...

For more information about caring for Green Spaces in Torbay, please contact Hannah Worthington on 07940510616 or email hannah.worthington@groundwork.org.uk

Nibbled hazelnuts – food for humans and squirrels!

Nibbled hazelnuts – food for humans and squirrels! - Credit: Groundwork South

Sloes growing along a footpath at Westerland Valley

Sloes growing along a footpath at Westerland Valley - Credit: Groundwork South