Saving Green Space
December 3, 1838
Today is the birthday of the English activist, conservationist, and naturalist Octavia Hill.
From the time she was 13 years old, Octavia worked to make life better for the working class. As Octavia matured, she crystalized her advocacy. And one of Octavia’s most passionate causes was getting access to nature for all of the folks living in large cities like London.
Historical records tell us that Octavia was a small woman, she didn’t care a lick for fashion, and she had beautiful brown eyes. She was also an exceptional speaker and persuasive advocate, as is evident by a comment the Bishop of London made after meeting with Octavia,
"She spoke for half an hour … I never had such a beating in all my life."
In 1884, Octavia's sister and fellow activist Miranda Hill remarked,
“It has come to the point when two peers and a cabinet minister call and consult her in one week.”
Octavia’s work to save green spaces throughout England led to the establishment of the National Trust.
It was Octavia Hill who said,
“The need of quiet, the need of air, the need of exercise, and, I believe, the sight of sky and of things growing, are human needs, common to all…”
And finally, gardeners will chuckle at this little passage from a letter Octavia wrote to her sister, Gertrude, on October 22, 1852:
“Oh, Gertrude! I am so happy, so very very happy. I wish you were with me. You would so love all my beautiful things...
I have a little room, all to myself. When anything is wrong or unjust downstairs, I have only to come up into my own little room, and it is so still...
I usually have some flowers, for the ladies are very kind in bringing me them. I have a few poor little plants that I am fond of. Then I have eleven dear little snails. They are such darlings.”