Stephen Cox Garden Trust is a Registered  Charity (number: 1174239)

THE ARCADIA PROJECT

(i) Background :

Stephen Cox created his garden born of his love for nature, the landscape and his concept of connectivity and balance and renewal in all things. This applies especially to Nature and the landscape and the way we treat it. It also applies to our need to change our ways as a species to cherish the planet and the ecosystem and better harmonise with Gaia. His garden strives to be a place of repose and a sanctuary for learning. This has so far resulted in many educational opportunities . And an international element: students so far have come from Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, U.S.A. and South Korea for residential study placements. A core principle of the philosophy of Stephen Cox when he created the Trust gardens from a small field, is that of his interpretation of 'Arcadia': the principle of humanity at peace with and in harmony with the landscape and Nature. To further develop this principle and at the same time continue the charitable objectives of the Trust (to advance education in horticulture and conservation) he proposes a dynamic and international opportunity to address some urgent issues. He invites educationists, specialists & scientists, innovators, companies and public bodies and especially students to contact him to discuss possibilities and to consider: a Proposal.

(ii) Introductory Statement

The achievements so far and the essence of the philosophy on which it is based (his version of Arcadia) and the urgent issues which are being addressed and needs to be further addressed and researched prompts the idea of the value of a modest research and visitor educational centre which can act as an hub for bring minds together in a neutral environment. Ongoing research in the fields indicated below would possibly benefit from some form of cross fertilisation and amicable contact to learn from each other, share ideas, find areas of collaboration, provide a peaceful and neutral environment for research and investigation., And additionally offer a facility for international friendship where variety is cherished and harmony engendered. It would in no way impinge on the projects or research of other individuals or companies or institutions, or work of our partners, or of individual researchers, or projects and courses of universities etc. Since it does not seek to be a specialist organisation or an alternative to the work being done in various areas. It would act as an add-on, a facility, a pod of reflection which can be accessed by a variety of institutions, companies, researchers etc.

(iii) The Proposal:

Bearing in mind the background above and what has been created so far: namely a unique fully functioning (albeit small 1/3acre) educational garden which receives visitors and a library and a Registered Charity (#1174239), it is worthwhile to briefly consider The Proposal. Which is: To greatly extend the Charity as it stands to establish an educational centre with its own building and gardens (which will feature aspects relevant to the core subjects of the centre). Some suggested areas of concern which it is felt would benefit from some cross fertilisation and mutual understanding would be a facility for be work, study, research, symposia including:

Renewable Energy; Landscape Architecture; Environment & Energy; Conservation; Wildlife; Horticulture; Ecology; Traditions/development; Past innovations; Land & Society so far

He invites educationists, specialists & scientists, innovators, companies and public bodies and especially students to contact him to discuss possibilities and to consider: The Proposal.

 

 

 


Aspects of My Philosophy and Spirituality in my own words

At the heart of my garden and what I strive to attain is that of  'Arcadia' (Greek: Ἀρκαδία) the spiritual philosophy of man's relationship with Nature which refers to a vision of pastoralism and harmony with nature and the landscape. It is something I feel passionately to the very core of my being. Nature, wildlife and gardening has always been a passion for me

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I have a deep love for and empathy with nature, the landscape and wildlife. I couldn't possibly be without them. To me a garden is like a broad canvas of a spiritual vocation. By working at it as I do I try to delight the eye, gladden the heart, enrich the mind and uplift the soul -not only for myself but for others.

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My garden might be said to be my studio now and each part therein being a canvas on which I paint. As for the landscape and wildlife: they were always my first friend and teacher. 

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I firmly believe that we all have a sacred and solemn duty to care for, cherish, protect and enhance Wildlife, the Environment and all other Creatures in every way possible. All of us in our daily lives can do sometning to make this planet more beautiful, sustainable and maintain its rich diversity and fecundity.

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For some years I have been moving towards a way of life that grants other creatures status as non-human persons. It is high time that we, of the species Homo Sapiens, in our intelligence and evolution finally recognise the duty we have, as the dominant species,  to other intelligent species/creatures. In my garden all mammals and birds etc are treated as non-human persons.They are given the same respect, protection, love and dignity I wish to be given myself.

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 How can one ever be alone as long as there is the rhythm of the seasons, the cycle of life in the greeness all around, the rustle of leaves in the breeze, the sound of the bird and the bee and smell of grass and flower after the rain? So much to delight our senses, restore our spirit and engender a sense of love and generosity to the environment and other creatures that so enrich our lives.

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If Heaven or the Elysium Fields mean anything then it is as a garden where our highest ideals and hopes live in perpetual harmony and fecundity.

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Wildlife, environmental health and biodiversity is dependent on a patchwork quilt of local habitats- which can be as small as your own garden (carefully planted) especially if linked up with your neignbours. Gardens in the UK provide more habitat than all the nature reserves.

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The evidence is clear. Sir David Attenborough and many others have provided countless incontrovertible facts, figures, assessments, audits. The conclusion: we (yes in Britain) are exterminating our Wildlife and robbing future generations of humans of a diverse and habitable planet. We can send satellites beyond our Solar System- and each of us race to spend our money on fashionable trivia, yet we cannot protect our own backyard?

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Unless you have a Wimbledon style grass court, or a bowling green why would you get neurotic over some mole hills? I do like a bit of grass- but just as a foil or break against which all the other shapes and ‘rooms’ of the garden can work. So please don’t flood them, or gas them or trap them. Just let them be. Just remove the heaps. Calm down! It won’t notice. Sad to think that they were once hunted and farmed for their  fur/skins to adorn silly selfish humans. We seem to have evolved fractionally since. So just be calm- accept the moles in your garden as a blessing. All creatures are. Be kind.

Every creature needs a home, I am sure we all agree. A home is for protection, for breeding, for feeding. Yet since time began over 99% of all creatures that have ever existed have become extinct. Not all through our doing- but enough to make us question our right to this wonderful planet. Many native species of animal are now under threat of extinction: light, sound and air pollution, loss of habitat, pesticides, human greed, overbuilding, and other factors amount to total war on wildlife! What does this big ecological and historical picture have to do with us in our villages? Quite a lot. Our little gardens can be a life saver for species: they provide little habitats which linked up through a village create corridors and sanctuaries across the landscape which can mean the difference between survival and extinction.

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A garden is a small piece of heaven on Earth and a place where our respect for and love of Nature and Wildlife can flourish. It is at once a sanctuary, a haven, a repository, and a place of repose and harmony. 

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So much is under threat in our landscape and wondrous English countryside today. We have lost many native species in the last 60 or so years. Others are on the danger list. So where does you garden fit into this? Very simply your garden can be a microcosm of and magnet for wildlife. It does not have to be grand. But there is lots you can do- it’s great for children too to learn about the human place in the great scheme of things.

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It is a fact that a better wildlife environment and rural surrounding improves human health and well-being. It is also very important for children to grow up in proximity to the country and wildlife with sufficient access to it for play and learning. Without that we are all impoverished and brutalised- and that which can sustain and enrich us is both squandered and emasculated.

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The old saying goes: “a gift for a gift”. And if we give and care we will be rewarded, especially if we do not seek it. The joy, companionship and learning I find in caring for Nature and observing it enriches my life beyond measure. It brings new ways to embellish my home, my garden and my way of living.

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I was born and brought up amongst English fields, woods and hills. For children of our two villages Nature is not only a resource for education and humanising it can be fun. What bird song was that? What difference between the wing edge and pattern of those butterflies? Why are the frogs croaking? The variety of bird flight, the courtship rituals of all creatures. It is a comfort and inspiration, an endless book and the most wondrous dvd you will ever come across!

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 In your time in the garden or walk around the locality, just stop every now and then and listen and look. You’d be surprised what you find. I never tire at what there is in my garden. Take a moment in your life to smell the flowers, hear the buzz of the bee, the song of the robin or blackbird, the scurrying of little mammals, the rustle of the leaves. Feel yourself to be a part of this vast and beautiful picture.

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Nature is sacred, yet so much is under threat even in our own country from much vaunted “progress” and once a species is gone it is gone forever. All wildlife is having a hard time to cling on to existence. But you and I can help. And we will be rewarded.

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To be a good steward and friend of Nature can bring a condition of grace yet alone honour and joy. Let us explore and share together the abundance around us. And it’s good exercise and good fun and free! 

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From at least the time of the civilisation of Skara Brae in the Orkneys c.3600 bce and radiating out across Britain (to for example Stonehenge and Avebury) on to the shrines of the Celts and thence the holy places of Medieval Christian pilgrimage,  local landscape and animals have been both significant and sacred to the British peoples in an unbroken line across the changing times. There is something hauntingly unique and mystically powerful about the British bond with the land and all therein.

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We seem to so often need to seek the wonder of Nature and great experiences in foreign places and trans-continental travel. But aren't we missing something essential? Roots and real connection is what gives real wonder and real experience: and that must surely start with the landscape that gave us birth and nurtured us? Before we go dashing all over the planet perhaps we should deeply explore and grow to understand our own land and vistas- there is enough wonder and great experience there to last each of us several lifetimes. 

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STEPHEN COX GARDEN TRUST

is a Registered  Charity (number: 1174239) in England & Wales

 

PURPOSE: To advance education in the subjects of horticulture, conservation , wildlife and heritage by providing study courses, training placements, talks, and workshops and other means for the enrichment of the Wiltshire/Calne and S.Glos/N.Somerset area communities and for the improvement of human well being in general based upon the Founder’s garden, library, writings, teaching and spiritual philosophy.


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