At the end of last year I entered a garden writing competition run by the Society of Garden Designers and to my complete amazement I actually won!
The title was the rather long winded.
‘Has the time come for garden designers to have in mind at all times the wider impact of their work?’
The short answer would have been a snappy ‘Yes of course’ but why use three words when a thousand will do. My answer was aimed at other garden designers but the basic premise is that all of us who garden, however large or small our garden might be, have an impact for good or ill on our own and the wider environment.
Here are a couple of paragraphs
'We all see our gardens in splendid isolation, jealously guarding our own private domain, when in reality each one is only a small part of a network of interconnecting open spaces, woodland, hedgerows, ponds, sunny banks and shady hollows with their own opportunities for shelter, feeding grounds and home making by species which have lived around and along side us for millennia. As our gardens fall victim to the swings and roundabouts of fashion trends in hard materials and planting styles, the natural processes of seasonal change, leaf fall and decay, spring and renewal are the constant beating heart of any garden. Its inhabitants, from the microscopic soil organisms we don’t see, to the insects, amphibians, birds and mammals we do, form part of the web of its life but will only be there if the conditions for them are right.
We can get it wonderfully right and our gardens become richly, joyfully alive, when we get it wrong they are silent and soulless.
Within the boundaries of even a small garden it’s possible to achieve so much for the body as well as the soul. We know that the industrialization of food production isn’t sustainable or in any way desirable and to encourage the growing of a few vegetables and the planting of the odd fruit tree may seem insignificant, even a futile gesture, but the pleasure to be taken and the benefits to be gained can be remarkable. To experience the pulling of a carrot from the soil, the popping of a pea pod straight from the plant and the thrilling discovery of buried treasure in the digging of new potatoes is to gain an understanding of our relationship with the earth and our complete dependence on it. To enable a child to learn that or a parent to teach it is an unmissable opportunity.'
Our garden is our own tiny part of planet earth and as short term custodians of it lets do our best this year to help it to be the best it can be for all its inhabitants. Individually we might only make a small change, but if we all do our bit, together we can make a difference even if it is only one garden at a time.