We live in a world of order, classification and control. The wild places are permitted to be wild. Their necessarily porous boundaries are policed with sinew, poison and guile. When we lack vigilance the wild seeps opportunistically into our lives. Sometimes altruistic we invite the wild, like a temporary house-guest, to unfurl its tokenistic canvass.
The urban landscape yields up transient wilds. In these spaces there is a lag-phase between, in human terms, past and future notions of utility. To make sense of these places we apply labels: wasteland; brownfield; contaminated. In societal terms we see such opened-up spaces as emblematic of a deficit, constructing them as loci of decline and decay. They speak of failure and non-conformity. In our optimism we seek to rehabilitate the ‘wasteland’, to domesticate the apparent anarchy of less orderly spaces .
Wasteland is of course, a pejorative term that stigmatises place and space, making powerful connections with constructions of loss and a desire for reclamation. In these intermediate states of spatial indecision we have, by default, granted temporary permissions for a different order to be expressed. Paradoxically, nurture represses the natural pursuit of a new equilibrium, jostling and influencing the expression of a neo-wildspace, a plagioclimax of sorts.
Our neglected places can then become ecologically contested spaces. The soil, a Noah’s Ark, is a gene bank gravid with potential,. Awash with well kept secrets, the unpromising earth gently cradles life; magically dormant seed held fast for a vigil that might last 10 or a 100 patient years. The gentle sleep of ‘orthodox’ seed is broken by the disruption of new rhythms, order now disposed to the quickening of breath. These then are places where millennia old struggles play out. Bindweed binds and chokes, dense thickets hold court and opportunistic migrants thrive. In the wasteland a new economy is born in a race for the sun. Rivalries are rekindled and draw a patchwork quilt of their possibilities, a chaotic tangle. Species stake their pioneering claim in pursuit of primacy; freed to establish a new equilibrium. To the human gaze there is only disorder, a madding jostling undifferentiated crowd, denounced through the sweeping and simplistic sobriquet ‘weeds’.