All these empty zones could certainly do with a massive make-over that needn't cost a penny. There are lots of amazing native British plants and planting schemes that offer low-maintenance and high attraction to wildlife. For instance, lavenders, cow parsleys, foxgloves are just a few that insects feed from. We could even add some kitchen garden plants as excellent 'architecture', such as rhubarb's massive leaves and tall silvery globe artichokes. This would be such little cost to the council in the long-run, and once planted, little bother for us, other than the occasional tidy up. In fact, research in other cities shows clearly that 'rewilding' these areas usually costs the council far, far less to maintain ...saving our taxes!!... and generates higher feelings of happiness, better mental health and wellbeing for community residents, workers and visitors.
Another popular idea is with areas that are just boring, unused grassy areas that have simply been forgotten or minimally maintained by the council. Not only do these offer little sanctuary or food or natural habitat to our native fauna. They also carry a regular cost to the council (or private company), having to mow them all the time. But they can easily be turned into mini wildflower meadows so easily!! These meadows can be underplanted with lots of other native bulbs and flowers for winter & spring interest - remember seeing pretty yellow cowslips in your childhood? They've been going gradually extinct. This simple wild meadow idea means the council/organisation doesn't have the high cost of having to regularly mow the grass. The wildflower meadows look after themselves and we'll see so much more wildlife being attracted to it. And if these new mini-meadows are slightly larger places, lovely paths can be cut through them, making it a far more beautiful experience of sitting or walking through them.
Now, the OUP building is historic and quite lovely to my eyes at least! But what a waste of it's long frontage onto Walton Street that it is just green lawn. Imagine that as a beautiful wildflower meadow! What visual pleasure and better mental health it would be for everyone walking past their railings to see lush greenery that supports wildlife and pollinators. Sometimes I wonder also if it might also hold a community bee hive for delicious honey! (honey has very powerful medicinal properties too). And how about a few dwarf heritage fruit trees there too?!
Another type of empty zone are the atypical plants that the council uses as types of thorny hedges in various random places. Replacing these with more native species' hedging would give much more familiar and user-friendly habitat and sources of food for our native wildlife and birds. By doing so, we'll be bringing more of the natural British countryside into our Jericho. Why is it important to bring a bit of country into city? Because using naturally growing species in an urban area creates familiar bridges and stop-over points for birds and insects and other wildlife. And we want to see more birds in Jericho! They'll also eat our slugs and keep our Edible Kitchen Gardens healthy too!
One final area that is an "empty zone" are our Jericho streets - narrow pavements and long rows of terraced houses. This is another easy empty zone to solve! Just click on the "Join a Project" tab above and select "Bloomin' our Streets" to see information on how to add upcylced pots and planters outside front doors and windows to turn our streets green again! While Jericho as a Victorian "urban village" was built to be entirely functional tenement housing for workers at Lucy's Factory, we live so close to the stunning greenery of the canal that we could so easily 'green' our pavement areas and cheer ourselves up with our pretty streets.
If you fancy getting involved with rewilding our "empty zones", please start posting photographs & locations on our Facebook group of empty zones you'd love to see made beautiful and meadow-ish! We can then start planning together how to make them beautiful again, what type of native species planting to choose and how to go about getting them green and lovely!