Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Hidden voices: Two visits – one crazy, one productive

Posted: May 28, 2012 at 11:55 am Author: Caroline Bennett

‘Hidden Voices’ is an inspiring project being run by that participation and learning team at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, engaging community groups in environmental issues. The Macular Disease Society, Asian women’s group, Awaz Utaoh, and Bristol Drugs Project will develop their personal connections with Westonbirt and ‘raise their voices’ to show why an arboretum may be relevant to their lives.

The past few weeks have been very busy indeed and we have hardly had time to update our side of the blog, despite lots happening here at Westonbirt Arboretum.

We had a fairly challenging day on the 9th of May when on the morning of the Awaz Utaoh visit we discovered that local work in the village of Westonbirt meant we had no electricity on site (and the knock on effect of no running water too) for the entire day.

Despite this, we managed, with the help of a petrol stove to make everyone a cup of tea, used buckets of water to wash hands and just had to cope without flushing toilets! The group went on a trailor ride around Silk Wood, at which point it started to rain fairly heavily – photo evidence below!

Awaz utoah 9th may

By the end of the day everyone had had a chance to dry off in our undercover area and the ladies made some beautiful painted coasters using Westonbirt wood and had a tree food tasting session which was greatly enjoyed! Elderflower cordial was the definite favourite.

The second visit on the 17th of May was with the Bristol Drugs Project. The group did some creative writing / photography and a little natural art with Chris and continued with their Laurel coppicing in the other half of their day. The group were very enthusiastic about the felling of the Laurel (and became highly efficient at it) which was reflected in their feedback at the end of the day!

Pile of laurelDown with laurel

And as a final note, I can’t resist sharing this beautiful poem one of the BDP participants wrote whilst working with Chris on creative writing in the arboretum:

The tiny wren playing hide and seek,
The tree lined path it’s secrets keep,
The inner child in me awakes
and makes a chain of daisies,
The connection to the earth is strong,
Among these trees with shadows long,
It grounds and calms my healing soul
and silences the crazies.
Fallen branches in the grass,
Like antlers from a deer,
It’s easy to imagine now,
The fairies playing near.
And lying here on dampened grass,
I’m hypnotised by music,
I feel the turmoil slowing now,
The trick is not to lose it!