Friday, 4 November 2011

How "green" is your garden?

I've just been clearing out some old papers, trying to get rid of a few "piles" of them that threaten to take over my writing desk. And I found an article by Lia Leendertz in TheGarden, the monthly glossy magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society (June 2011 p. 410, The Moral Garden Maze"). 
I had obviously kept this for a reason. I had scrawled a pencil line down the margin against this: "We aren't children," she writes, "we in the Western world have taken and taken - isn't it now time to face up to our responsibilities? Gardening more sustainably, especially by growing some of our own food, is what we should all be doing, if we care at all about those beyond our imaginary drawbridge outside the garden gate."
Now I guess any one who finds this blog is already interested in growing their own - most probably already does. So this may be preaching to the converted. But it is so easy to grow many vegetables in window boxes, containers of all sorts, if a garden or allotment isn't available. 
But I think what I liked most about Lia's article was her bluntness! "Should" and "must", she says, are words that rankle and are often avoided by many environmentalists as being too off-putting. And I have often been told that I am too direct sometimes in my thoughts and writings - that cajoling is better than ranting. But hey, Lia is right. We are not children. We should be able to take the rants to heart and change our ways, accept our responsibilities like the mature adults that we are.
The serious point behind Lia's article is that as gardeners we should be not only growing our own veg., but also reducing our consumption of materials by innovation e.g growing our own plant supports, using hand mowers and hand tools where possible, reducing our peat use, making our own compost, etc.) Because our consumption affects our carbon footprint and can contribute to pain and misery elsewhere in the world.
The article is tough on gardeners. Lia does not mince words. She does have a very good case. But here is a thought to ponder: To what extent is it morally wrong to cultivate ornamental plants only on land that could be productive? Should all gardeners grow at least some food?
 What are your views?

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