My thanks to John Walker for his response to Fairy Front Doors: Kitsch or Cute? As ever, he got powerfully to the point: “Surely,” wrote John, “anyone buying this kind of tat is truly away with the fairies.”
And I rather liked them… But the ornaments are part of a stream of “useless stuff” which he feels is encouraging excess consumption. Gardeners, says John, are the one group who have “real potential to hit the brake of consumption and help slow its symptoms, one of which is climate change.”
Gardeners, indubitably, enjoy a personal relationship with nature. We delve into the soil, we sow, plant and harvest. Our carbon footprint is probably, by very reason of our occupation, smaller than that of many other people.
But gardening has always been about imposing ourselves on nature. Coincidentally, Robin Lane Fox touched on this in last Saturday’s Financial Times. “Gardening,” he wrote, “is not about sustainable ‘solutions’. If it was, we would all grow nettles and bindweed. Much of it is short-lived and transitory, loved for its brief beauty or for the challenge of persuading something rare and useless to grow in a state outside nature, often far from home. It is not about saving the planet.”
Given that gardeners already grow and cherish plants, giving succour to insects and birds, are we all the more wicked when we don’t put our ecological impact at the head of our priorities?
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John Walker is a garden writer with a special interest in ecologically sustainable gardening and a past winner of the Environmental Award from the Garden Media Guild. View his articles at Landscape Juice.