how old farmland became new
The land art projects on the land at Clegyr Boia, Wales enact an illustration, model for The Land Art Forest.
On 25 November 2002 me, doggy Stamper and my chickens moved from The Pumpkin Shed Walled Garden to 6 hectare (16 acres) of land at the foot of Clegyr Boia.
Clegyr Boia is a rock which was one of the first settlements in Wales.
Farmers had used the land for centuries and the last years in a very intensive way, leaving the soil bare and tired. The above photo shows the land under plastic covering for the growing of early potatoes. Some of that plastic, most likely, is floating around somewhere in the plastic soups of the oceans.
just the beginning
The idea behind this project was to create a balance between nature and culture, with Land Art.
The best way to describe it would be: ‘recreating nature with culture’.
So many people express their doubts, giving me advice, but i had my own ideas. On the small field (photo above) i would experiment with my own ideas. On the other fields i worked together with conservationists.
The first year i thought many times, this is never going to work as i discovered how sad the soil was.
The land lays on a peninsula exposed to the salty coastal-winds which dried the land out in the summer and in the winter the land stood exposed to rain which washed lots of soil down the drain.
I started by creating circles, one large circle in the middle surrounded by 9 smaller circles. Each circle told a story with plants about the surrounding landscape.
The whole had an embracing hedge which i planted with bare root shrubs and trees.
Many different trees and shrubs were planted to see which one would perform the best under these circumstances.
Well, except for one they all survived.
The above shows the progress in one circle called Gossamer. In the first year the poor wild roses just hanged in there, 2 years later the lovely driftwood stick had to be placed onto a log to stick her head above the roses.
The stones in the middle came all from the land, bucket by bucket i got them while seeding.
In 2008 the rocks had to be placed on a high pile to make space for the roses and 4 years later i had to prune the roses to make space for the rocks.
If you look closely on the photo you see a small green wheelbarrow filled with heather cuttings.
Next to it i stand with a lovely job to chuck the cuttings in the air for random landing.
The top field has lots and lots of stones, large and small, all over the soil and in the soil.
The farmers used to remove the rocks with a machine before seeding, only to plough more up a season later.
The field lays on a slope which did help the rain to wash a lot of soil down.
Therefore we chose this field to be returned into a heather field.
Yes, it was hard work but the result made it all good.
This field was created together with the help of conservationists.
It shows that we can give back to nature what others took/take away from nature. It is so wonderful to see how a site recovers and how nature enters where it once was forced out.
The chemical residue was high, intensive agriculture does not tolerate nature at all and use a large selection of chemicals to spray it out of existence.
Yet, it returned in all her glory in not a long time scale and with limited costs.
I can tell you so much more about this and i will, the message i want to give here is how nature does recover and how trees grow against all odds.