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Wilding Green:
A Backyard
Rewilding Project

What's In a Name?

About the Property

Watching Gardener's World made me realize that most plots of land with any history in England and America have names. Usually the name reflects some characteristic qualities of the place. Monty Don's 2-acre Herefordshire property is named "Longmeadow" for the long rectangular shape, and if I remember correctly, it was something of an overgrown pasture when he purchased it. But the name also needs a quality of beauty and of what you want it to be. I'm not sure strict honesty is the best policy in selecting a name!

That got me thinking about how to refer to our land other than "home" or "our place". To give it a sense of identity and of place apart from us. Well that's laughable, as the spirit of the land likely doesn't think of itself in discrete parcels. But anyways we wanted it to have its own identity that somehow reflected it's character other than the fact that we are it's stewards at this time. 

Many qualities came to mind - as it is covered in limestone, is next to a creek that frequently floods, was almost completely treeless when we got here....descriptors and nouns like "meadow" seemed to be overused (no offense Monty, this obviously doesn't apply to your plot - so dear to us all!!) and "prairie" or "wood" wasn't quite right even though those are things we were going for. Eventually I whittled down the qualities I know of it which under my stewardship reflects its anthropogenic succession, from disturbed, to natural. The word "wilding" came to me and became fixed as the first part. Then "green" for the obvious implication that it is in fact green, but also because "green" as a noun also indicates that it is a grassy public bit of land. Grassy this place certainly is, although now covered with more native prairie grasses than the mostly-useless lawn varieties. But I also envision it as someplace that can eventually be used as a resources by others for learning and teaching about rewilding - if not in person, then virtually. Lastly, green is also the word we use in this time to indicate something is environmentally friendly - and that is absolutely at the heart of the concept of rewilding. And so we have landed on Wilding Green.

Wilding Green is a 5.7-acre parcel of land situated in Wilson County Tennessee, USA. It was subdivided from a large cattle ranch which is a very common land use in our area. The expansion of Nashville has meant increasing values of land and people moving farther out to afford property. We were living in a suburb in 2018 when we started looking for land, and the one that checked most of the boxes was this one. The property is situated right at the base of the foothills of the highland rim. That combined with our situation east of a heat island means we get a lot of rain locally. And a lot of flooding. Cedar creek swells into a raging river when there is more than a couple of inches of rain within a short time period. 

We are also situated on limestone geology, so we have fairly calcareous (lime/basic) soil. The closer the property gets to the creek, the more rich and organic it is - obviously many years of silt deposition from flooding has taken place in the past, along with probably more biomass growing there due to more available moisture.

Property Layout Website.JPG

 The above diagram roughly gives you the lay of the land. The house is in red. The cottage garden is on the east side of the house directly against it and is not marked as a rewilded area. Rewilded areas around the property are marked in green stripes. The property grades slightly downward from east to west towards the creek. The pond is situated at a low spot on the east side of the house where drainage from the houses to the east collects. There are two pastures for our horses which I estimate to be about 3-4 acres of the property. These areas are obviously highly disturbed where most  plant species are controlled by grazing and the buttercups have to be controlled by species specific herbicide application every other year. As far as I am aware this is a reality that has to be tolerated when owning farm animals. However I will say nothing that I have seen hosts on the buttercups, probably because all parts of the plants are poisonous. The rewilded areas and the side of the driveway that adjoins the neighbors property are not rewilded (in order to maintain the peace) been planted with native trees. I've planted the following around the property as appropriate to conditions and structures - including the Eastern Redbud, American Sycamore, Pin Oak, Burr Oak, Red Maple, Willow Oak, Elm, Yellow (River) Birch, Mulberry, Fringe Tree, and Sassafras. There are also several native shrubs including spicebush, red and black chokeberry, nannyberry viburnum, summersweet, sweetspire, cranberry viburnum, and elderberry. I've planted several cultivated varieties of apple trees on the north side of the house in the mowed area - and blueberry bushes on the rewilded area on the east side of the cottage garden. I have a few nectarines and peaches in the rewilded area towards the driveway. All of the fruit trees and shrubs are very young and have yet to fruit appreciably or at all. 

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