You may remember that I posted on British gardening celeb Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens show, complaining that it was not available in the U.S. It’s still not, and we still don’t have anything close to this show, in terms of its thoughtful survey of indigenous gardens throughout the world.
Turns out, Don had an epiphany of sorts after doing the series—not a terribly surprising one. This is what he says in a recent interview with the Daily Mail: “Gardening with indigenous plants and working with nature by tweaking it is so much more interesting than imposing on to the natural world,” and then: “The interesting gardens are related to geographical/historical/ personal context.”
Not so surprising or shocking, right? Yet, many in Don’s audience are not quite ready to fall in line with his newfound (perhaps not so newfound—I don’t know his regular show) love of natives.
I love this headline : Yew must be joking! Growers’ fury at Monty Don’s call to use only British plants. Ha. I can feel the pain of those who were outraged, like Dr Mark Johnstone, a lecturer at Myerscough College, Preston, in Britain, who says: “I’m amazed someone as high profile as Monty Don should recommend sticking to native British plants. He is confusing biodiversity and native plants. Plants and trees are used for social, economic and environmental reasons.” And this is my favorite quote in the article (from a garden center owner, natch): “The vast array of non-native plants available in Britain is something that we are recognized for and that has given us our identity.” As paradoxical as it sounds, it’s absolutely true. The English border is known as a desirable gardening style throughout the world; yet, many of the plants that compose it are by no means native to Britain.
So? So nothing. I look at natives as a challenge and as an opportunity, though I’ll never be 100% native or even close. But I love the passion that someone like Monty Don brings to this cause. If only we had a gardening personality on this side of the pond who could proselytize as well. Or at least, could we please air this show here?!