On a sunny Thursday in April, a group of SVI members, staff and volunteers enjoyed a guided wildlife walk down West Bromwich High Street. Not a place you would expect to find an abundance of wild flowers, but how wrong you would be!
Jake Williams, our guide from the Wildlife Trust, shared information about the wildlife, plants and trees. We started from the new, more formal, planted areas at the end of the pedestrianised part of the High Street. These new sitting areas include plants selected for their smell including thyme and rosemary. It’s a lovely place to linger on a sunny day. You could almost believe you were in the country!
Accompanied by Becky Sexton from Multistory and artist Lee MacKenzie, we continued our journey from the High Street towards Dartmouth Park. We were able to feel and smell the plants growing wild at the side of the pavement. We enjoyed the texture of the fluffy ash tree seed heads. And were surprised to find Wormwood, which is an ingredient for absinthe, growing at the edge of a derelict site.
There were bluebells too!
We collected our favourite plants and took them back to the Dartmouth Central Club. Jake, Lee and Becky spread the plants out on a tablecloth while we had a nice cup of tea and a sandwich. (It is SVI after all, and a nice cup of tea is essential – especially at the Dartmouth Central Club which is such a friendly and welcoming place.)
Poet, Lee invited us to answer a series of questions, so he could put together a short poem about each plant. The strangest question was ‘pick three things that this plant is least like’. We were a bit mystified about how the poems would turn out. You can hear the results if you listen to the audio track below! It really does make you think more about the plants, their texture, colour and smell. Everyone very much enjoyed the event. We all learned a lot about the nature around us.
Jake entertained us with his repertoire of bird calls. We all hope that more birds will visit the high street when the new trees have grown. Several people said they would like to learn more about birdsong. A visit to the RSPB in Sandwell Valley could be planned in future.
The wildlife walk was part of a cultural programme called Green Roots, delivered by local arts organisation Multistory. The programme invites community groups to get involved in creative activities, walks and events connected to the local environment. It’s funded by Sandwell Council as part of their urban greening programme. The Council is making more spaces to sit in the high street and creating a green corridor to Dartmouth Park.
We are looking forward to getting involved in future events and activities. The walk definitely sparked an interest in wildlife.
Thank you to Becky, Jake and Lee for making the walk such a great experience.
Find out more about the programme and partners
More about Multistory
More about Sandwell Council’s Urban Greening Programme
More about Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust