Sixty years ago, in her seminal book, Rachel Carson invited us to imagine a “Silent Spring”. Carson presented “A Fable for Tomorrow”, one in which spring was greeted with a strange stillness: “The birds, for example – where had they gone?” In the Autumn of 1962 Carson was writing about her concerns for the environment with the widespread use of the pesticide DDT.
In 2021 Professor Dave Goulson published his book “Silent Earth” in which he discusses his concerns for the falling insect population. The book is sub-titled “Averting the Insect Apocalypse”. He has much to say about the new generation of pesticides, such as glyphosate, which is found in commercial products such as Roundup®.
Goulson’s book concludes with a chapter on “Actions for Everyone”. These actions are broken down into “Actions for National Government”, “Actions for Local Government” (our Parish Council), “Actions for Gardeners and Allotment Holders” “and “Actions for Farmers”. In his proposal for “Greening Our Urban Areas”, Professor Goulson asks us as individuals to avoid the use of pesticides in our gardens. He also calls upon National Governments to ban their use in urban areas. And if the National Government won’t do this, he urges Local Government to do so.
His actions for us, as individuals, are supplemented by the advice in another of his books “The Garden Jungle” (2019). In this book, he lists his 16 favourite garden plants for pollinators. This list features old favourites such as lavender as well herbs such as marjoram and thyme. His advice appeared particularly sage during the prolonged period of summer drought that we experienced last year. Whilst the grass was parched and bleached by the sun last summer, we saw the resilience of many of our wildflowers such as the wild marjoram in Clunch Pit Wood.
If you can, find space in your garden for a pond, even a small one. Bird baths are invaluable both in summer and winter. If you only do one thing, providing water for the wildlife in your garden should be it.
Our individual actions are supplemented by communal activities such as “No Mow May” and the successful tree planting at Elbourn Way. Please support the establishment of this area.
By taking individual and collective action we can “say no to a silent spring”