The new face of sustainable gardening

Naturalistic and chemical free gardening is the prevailing fashion but it requires adopting philosophical and aesthetic change.


In her article entitled ‘Does having a sustainable garden mean joining the hug-a-slug brigade?’ in the Financial Times, Jane Owen discusses the complexities and challenges of gardening with the ‘traditional supports’ of chemicals and limitless water supplies.

Owen includes real experiences of garden designers such as Jo Kerr, Tom Stuart Smith and Tabi Jackson Gee how they developed their ‘cleaner’ philosophies as well as aesthetics as ‘sustainable gardens look different’. Her article is frank and grounded in the fact that ‘cleaner’ gardening is not easy and takes time, all of which she supports with experiences from the designers, as well as experts in their field such as Professor Alistair Griffiths, director of science and collections at the RHS and professor Ross Cameron from Sheffield University.

Owen goes on discussing native planting in the sustainability debate. Where it may seem appealing to focus on native plants in landscapes and gardens, the climate is changing and we may therefore need to look to non-natives and their role in increasing biodiversity. ‘And anyway, what is a native plant? Ginkgo, cycads and other plants now known collectively as “exotics” in the UK were native a few million years ago when dinosaurs romped through the home counties’, writes Owen.