WHAT IS A ROT GARDEN
OR ETERNITY IN A CAN OF COKE
I’m lucky enough to work part time at an Environmental Centre in south Bucks UK. My colleague, led us one cold dark November afternoon through the eco trails programme run for mainly aged 8-10 year old students at the centre.
As we headed over from the almost self sufficient classrooms and dorm block to the woodland area, I was looking forward to tracking some wildlife; hopefully recent signs of badger, rabbit or deer, or the un camouflaged birdlife in the leafless beech, oak and sweet chestnut.
We walked over to, what I had thought my colleague had said, was the ‘rock garden’. How could an ornamental collection of stone enhance children’s knowledge of the environment?
We jogged and shivered as another colleague ‘conversed’ with an inquisitive robin. He had the right idea to be interested.
As dank sodden leaf litter was swept from a heavy duty covering of industrial carpeting, with a spiralling wooden pipe, I helped roll it back.
Many of our students will have been born on or around 2005, when this ‘rot garden’ was established. Question. What is rotting? Answer it’s eating.
The ‘rot garden’ revealed an aray of exhibits, buried in 2005. Clearly visible were two detergent containers; still pretty pristine, only slightly discoloured and with writing still visible on the side. A carrier bag, again recognisably white was curled amongst the fertile leaf littered earth. We could just make out the writing on the side. Red, heavy upper case.
It was a bag from a defunk supermarket chain Woolworths.
‘Look on my work ye mighty and despair’, wrote Coleridge about the hubristic Ozymondias in his eponymous sonnet. We did.
Other remnants of this era remained, likewise intact: the squashed but still existent coke can and the remains of a green packet of salt and vinegar crisps. At the other end of the ‘rot garden’ were the now truly recycled remains of eggshells and apple cores.
The coke can and plastic bag chilled us to the bones; that 10 year old vestiges of one packed lunch could remain so smugly intact made us all think of what we’d put into the ground over decades. A lesson learnt.
Written by: Rosa Redoz
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