While cycling along Glaisdale Drive the other day, I noticed a demolished industrial site, now on sale for “development”. The 2.2 Acre site is starting to green up, with pioneer species getting a foothold……
Similarly to my recent post about an empty site in Forest Fields, seeing this plot made me contemplate more imaginative futures for the land than “development”. Although the site is nothing special at the moment, it could become a valuable local green space for people and nature, in an area dominated by industrial units and high-density housing…
Some buildings were knocked down in Forest Fields earlier this year, in connection with a proposed development for a supermarket with residential flats above and accompanying car park. The plans have long been controversial, with many in the area opposed to them, and the site has not been touched since it was levelled and fenced off.
In the meantime, the site (consisting mostly of brick rubble and churned-up dust and soil) has started to be colonised by a variety of plants, both wild and garden escapes…..
I counted at least 20 different plant species that could be easily identified from the other side of the fence. It made me imagine possibilities for the site beyond what is proposed. I’m not sure that Forest Fields needs more shops, and although new homes are always needed, two good-sized semi-detached houses, in seemingly good condition, were demolished to clear the site (the remainder of the site was an old garage and workshop).
What is very lacking in Forest Fields, despite the rustic-sounding name, is green space. Although the Forest Recreation Ground is nearby, the area itself is characterised by dense terraced housing, with no green open spaces to speak of. Imagine if this cleared site was turned into a small, open park to create green space for both local residents and wildlife….that sounds much better than a supermarket to me.
Recently I noticed a vigorous growth of Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) growing on “The Island” wasteland site near the city centre…..
Alexanders is a tall, glossy plant in the carrot family, with yellow flowers arranged in umbels….
The species was introduced by the Romans as a food plant; now it grows mostly in coastal areas, although it is sometimes found inland on wasteground. The inland island where I found it is a former industrial site between Sneinton and the city centre. Despite various schemes to develop the site, it survives, to the benefit of wildlife and informal recreation. It’s also the Nottingham focus of the Wasteland Twinning project.
Alexanders is a useful plant for the forager – see here and here for some ideas on how to enjoy it. However, it should only be used if you are 100% certain you have identified it correctly – it has some very poisonous relatives…..
Bee orchids are fantastic plants, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to see them in the middle of Nottingham. So it was great to find a group of these intriguing flowers on a patch of wasteland not far from the centre :
The remarkable plant does a good job of resembling a bumble bee resting on a pink flower….
The wasteland site, also known as “The Island”, is a former industrial site (including a Boots pharmaceutical factory) on the Sneinton edge of the city centre. Although there have been various grandiose plans to develop the site, it fortunately remains as an important marginal location for wildlife and informal recreation. It’s also the focus of the Wasteland Twinning initiative in Nottingham, which is asking interesting questions about the value and perception of the site.
Bee orchids are not uncommonly found these days on ex-industrial sites, and it’s important to acknowledge the significance such land can have for wildlife – they are often more diverse than greenfield agricultural deserts, and should not just be seen as “blank canvasses” for development.