As I've been walking to and from work since moving to Atlanta I've been noticing more and more micro wildernesses, strips and patches of vegetation that for various reasons are turning into lush refuges for possums, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, coyotes, and the ubiquitous feral cats. I've mentioned Peachtree Creek before -- it's been channelized for flood control so runs well below street level as it wends its way to the Chattahoochee, but its banks are so densely packed with overhanging shrubs, trees, and vines that at this time of year it's hard to see the water. Kudzu gets talked about a lot as being the vine that ate the South, but it's definitely got plenty of competition for climbing and sprawling space. The fact the creek is channelized (the revetments were discernible during the winter when vegetation was thinner) tells me that not too many years ago its banks were bare, but it's sure hard now to tell that it's not a completely natural drainage. I figure give it another year or two so the storm drain outlets into the creek are completely masked by the kudzu, and some naive natural resource type will be pushing for wild river designation for this pristine strip of the untrammeled natural world.
Peachtree isn't the only mini-wilderness in the neighborhood, though. There's a 12-foot strip between the apartment complex where I live and the condo development next door where for some mysterious reason there's a gap between the chain link fence marking the boundary for the apartments and the chain link fence protecting the condos. Why the gap exists is a mystery -- a utilities easement? a memory of an alley or road that hasn't existed in years? Doesn't really matter. Between the half a dozen varieties of green briers, wild grape, honey suckle, wisteria, kudzu, and the healthiest poison ivy I've seen outside of Arkansas, nothing human is going walking in there. It is, however, ideal habitat for songbirds and small mammals.
That same condo development had to do a catch basin for flood control, so there's now an artificial wetland occupying about the same amount of space as a typical city lot -- it's surrounded by a fairly high concrete wall, so at this point access to it is limited to critters that can either fly in or come up the storm drain. I'm intrigued by the way in the space of less than a year it's gone from bare dirt to having cottonwoods that look to be about 12 feet tall. Last fall they were foot-high saplings. I'm curious as to whether the condo management will allow this patch of would-be wilderness continue to re-wild, or if they'll cut those trees down when/if they notice them. Maybe they'll let them grow. They haven't had much luck with the dawn redwoods they planted as part of the formal landscaping, so it might occur to them a few healthy accidental trees look better than dead purchased ones.