…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
Gardeners across the country are taking to social media to showcase their cherished wild gardens in protest against recent remarks made by renowned gardening experts Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh.
The duo criticized the rewilding movement as “puritanical nonsense” and claimed that gardeners have been “brainwashed by current trends” to allow their gardens to go wild.
Their comments came after this year’s Chelsea Flower Show featured numerous show gardens embracing ‘weeds’ like stinging nettles, dandelions, and buttercups, in line with the growing popularity of rewilding green spaces.
Defining the term ‘rewilding’ can be challenging, but at its core, it involves recognizing our interconnectedness with the natural world and taking positive actions to restore and enhance it.
Contrary to misconceptions, rewilding does not mean doing nothing.
In fact, even small changes in gardening practices that promote biodiversity and improve habitats contribute to the principles of rewilding.
Urban Rewilding and London’s Role
Londoners may wonder how rewilding applies to them, as urban environments require a different approach compared to rural areas.
However, city dwellers have various options to add greenery to the capital.
The significant increase in paved front gardens from 2005 to 2015 has had negative implications for the environment, emphasizing the need for alternative green spaces.
Guerrilla gardeners like Ellen Miles and Richard Reynolds have been advocating for more gardens in public areas, challenging entities like TfL and local authorities.
Initiatives such as Grow to Know have successfully reclaimed urban spaces, aligning with the concept of rewilding and benefiting both people and the environment.
Rethinking the Criticism
Both Titchmarsh and Don are passionate gardeners who understand the importance of wildlife and biodiversity in gardens.
They have individually demonstrated their commitment to these principles, with Titchmarsh creating a meadow at his home and Don practicing organic gardening throughout his career.
Instead of dismissing them as out of touch, it is crucial to consider the underlying issue.
The confusion between rewilding and doing nothing seems to be a key problem.
Both experts rightfully argue that a hands-off approach to urban spaces may lead to the dominance of certain species and a decrease in biodiversity.
Their skepticism is valid in this regard.
Responsible Rewilding Practices in London
Responsible rewilding in London can be as simple as allowing small weeds to grow under larger plants.
Weeds provide shade, protect the soil, and offer a valuable food source for pollinators and other organisms in the ecosystem.
Another idea is to lift paving slabs or bricks in gardens and sow wildflower seeds.
For those fortunate enough to have a lawn, transforming it into a meadow can be achieved by intentionally allowing it to grow while maintaining defined edges and pathways.
This compromise strikes a balance between rewilding and practicality, reflecting the essence of the entire endeavor.
Gardeners are embracing wild gardens as a response to criticism from gardening icons Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh.
While the experts raised valid concerns about the misconception of rewilding as doing nothing, gardeners are finding ways to responsibly incorporate rewilding practices in urban and rural spaces alike.
By promoting biodiversity and making small changes to gardening approaches, individuals can contribute to the restoration and enhancement of the natural world while preserving the balance between wildness and practicality.