Over the last few months, I’ve been working with the Colour in the Margins project to create poems and stories about the plants and animals from arable landscapes which they are working to bring back from the brink of extinction.

As the Back From The Brink artist for the North, I could choose any project within the north of England. I chose Colour in the Margins because they work very close to where I grew up – the Yorkshire Wolds. These landscapes are so close to my heart, and it was really exciting to have the chance to explore them all over again, with a new eye.

I wrote a set of poems, which I turned into an interactive booklet – which was part of a drop-in event at Scarborough Library, where people aged 4 to 80 investigated and wrote about species that Colour in the Margins focuses on.

To write the poems, I trailed the places where some of the most threatened wildflowers have been seen – and then sown, encouraged, and taken care of.

Driving through Scarborough, the Vale of Pickering, and the Wolds, I visited fields, old quarries, nature reserves, and forests. At the same time, I read about the wildflowers: I found out more about the reasons for their decline, and the possibilities for coexistence; I read about the traditions surrounding them, such as putting Speedwell seeds in the seams of clothes for journeys; I learned about the ecosystems they support, and the efforts of farmers and conservationists to create spaces in our arable landscapes for them to flourish.

Because I grew up in this area, I thought a lot about what it means to be from this landscape, and what it means to be connected to it.

As an LGBTQ+ person, I left in part to find more community (as many of us do). But there's no escaping the sense of responsibility and affection I feel for these places (and I'm not sure I'd want to). I feel more part of the ecosystem as a result of following these important and beautiful plants, and it helped me to feel more like I belong in that part of the world.

I was able to bring some of that connection to the event at the Library. We had six different activities for people to try out – from imagining a seed under a microscope as an alien planet to writing about memories of wildflowers. I was really moved by the stories and connections people have to nature, and I loved hearing the stories they came up with.

You too can have a go at Colouring in the Margins with Words!

You can download and print the booklet, have a read of my poems for inspiration, and get outside to write about the plants and animals around you.

Download the booklet here: Colouring in the Margins booklet

Please let us know how you do! Send us your photos on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram by tagging @NatureBftB.

We can't wait to see your photos!


Linden McMahon

Community Artist for the North, BftB



Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:

  • Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
  • Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
  • Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.