Magic mushrooms and tragic oil

April 26th, 2022

The Chelsea Flower Show starts soon – this year Facebook/Meta (maybe look past that detail?!) has commissioned Joe Perkins, a 45 year old landscape architect based in Sussex, to make a Chelsea garden; and he has decided to build an immersive environment that celebrates the symbiotic exchange between soil, fungi and plants.

He said: “It’s fair to say that, as gardeners, we’ve not always fully understood – and I still don’t – the importance of these systems.

“On a domestic level, our relationship and understanding of fungi in the past has very much been that it’s something about decay, it’s about disease, and it’s something that we don’t particularly want in our gardens.”

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi, the place where spores are produced.

Under the soil’s surface, out of sight, networks of mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus, twist through the soil and make connections between plants.

It’s now understood that more than 90% of plants depend on mycorrhizal fungi for improving their water and nutrient absorption, which has led to these networks being called the ‘Wood Wide Web’  (such a wonderful name….).

In ‘domestic’ gardening terms, Joe Perkins is encouraging people: “Don’t be too tidy… some fungi are decomposers and they will take the dead plant material back into the soil and recycle it, making it available to the other plants for nutrients.

“If you really don’t want to do that, at least leave some towards the back of the borders, so there are some opportunities for that to happen.”

No Mow May’ is another important initiative/opportunity for gardeners this month (and in future months?!) – the campaign group Plantlife, encouraged by the National Trust and many others, is asking people to let the flowers bloom on our lawns, helping to provide enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators. 

The drastic decline in insect populations, caused by habitat loss, pesticides and the climate crisis, should concern us all. Insects are experts in pollination and pest control (and decomposing corpses…), playing a vital role in making the Earth habitable; but we often dismiss them as an annoyance. 

I wonder if you noticed it was Earth Day last Friday. I only knew of its existence the year before last….

April 22nd marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’, published in 1962, raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between pollution and public health.

But I only became aware of that wonderful woman, through a theatre piece performed at our local arts centre in about 2005; and I suspect most of us have still never heard of her….

This year (22/4/22), Earth Day had the motto ‘invest in our planet’ , implying a partnership between business, politics and civil society to invest in a “more prosperous and equitable future”.

In other words, we all have a part to play, reducing our own carbon footprints while also pressuring destructive, unjust systems to change.

That is what the ‘disruptive’ Just Stop Oil campaigners are doing – we, everyone on this Earth, need to realise (it’s getting alarmingly late to do this) that ‘business as usual’ is bringing about catastrophe.

Ignoring the problem and, worse, condemning the people who can no longer bear to stand by and watch us destroying ourselves, is not going to make it go away.

A letter to Boris Johnson, read out by two Just Stop Oil supporters, said: “The bill for oil and gas is already being paid by millions around the world, in the global south, and can now also be seen in blood and suffering in Ukraine.”

Howard Cox, the founder of FairFuelUK, which campaigns for low fuel prices for motorists, said the blockades by Just Stop Oil were to blame for recent shortages of petrol and diesel stock, accusing the protest group of carrying out “a pointless crusade they believe will save the planet”.

Of course we/they are under no naive illusion that we alone will actually ‘save the planet’ but we have to try (you too, I’m sure…); and, as Caroline Lucas, Green MP, said, disruptive protests are the “only way that people feel they can make their voices heard”.

The Labour Party has called for ‘nationwide injunctions’ to ban the protests.

Sadly, there are no Green Party candidates standing in my area during the local UK elections next week (Thursday, May 5th), but they are by far the fairest political party striving for a humane future in this country.

I hope you can vote for a green future where you are; and of course, the current government needs replacing. We can start doing that locally – please vote.

2 thoughts on “Magic mushrooms and tragic oil

  1. Despite the major parties trying to avoid climate as an issue the rise of a group of moderate independents, the so called “teal independents”, have made it an issue here in Australia for the up coming election, as it should be. I think most people have finally had enough. I have high hopes that we will see significant change at this election.
    Rachel Carson an amazing woman, and Silent Spring is still a source of inspiration for those who care about the environment today.


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