Leading article: Root out the shrubs, let weeds run wild

THE PASSION for pebbles of Britain's gardeners is putting the country's shoreline at risk. It is time to call a halt to this madness. Watch television programmes about it by all means. Buy best-selling books by DG Hessayon. But on no account must you really do any gardening, this weekend or at any other time. Our futile attempts to stay in touch with Nature outside our back doors have become a threat to Nature in her own habitat. First it was peat, now it is pebbles. Gardening today is merely an extension of the home-decorating business, so that whatever is fashionable is required in industrial quantities, and we dig up the countryside to provide it.

This is not gardening, it is conspicuous consumption. Hardly anyone actually grows anything any more. Everyone drives to the out-of-town garden centre and buys a garden in kit form - soil, peat, pebbles, stone features and all. Old railway sleepers are the latest popular feature, price pounds 23 each. You buy lawn like carpet, by the square metre. Then you buy plants. Preferably fully grown, in pots so that you can move them about if your designer layout turns out to have the wrong feng shui. Then you forget to water them, throw them out and drive off to the garden centre to buy some more.

The idea that any form of wildlife might live in gardens fills most modern horticulturalists with horror. They would not mind a blue tit or two perching photogenically on the blue plastic RSPB bird feeder. But foxes! Get on to the local council's pest control department. Not that there is anything for wild mammals to feed on. The slugs have been poisoned, the snails thrown into neighbouring gardens and the aphids eliminated by enough pesticide to cause a national health scare if used on a farm.

The only form of mammalian life in most gardens is the domestic cat, picking its way through the pepper dust and chemicals to find some patch of something like soil to soil. Which brings us to the other main function of modern gardening besides the decorative, which is localised warfare. Apart from disputes over cats, the reciprocal ethnic cleansing of snail populations, smelly barbecues and loud CD players, aggressive neighbours have in their armoury new breeds of super-hedges that can grow fast enough to plunge next door's garden into permanent darkness within months. If this insanity continues any longer, the United Nations will be called upon to negotiate a new biological weapons non-proliferation treaty.

This bank holiday weekend, make a stand for organic, non-interventionist gardening. Scatter some seeds, and let them grow. Let the greenfly live. Throw away the fertiliser (a recent study showed that it made no difference anyway), the weedkiller and the pesticides. If you must assassinate your friendly slugs, let them die happy in a saucerful of beer. Let a thousand flowers bloom. And a thousand weeds too.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test