I have several gardening friends who are originally from the UK, and from what I can tell, gardening there is like a national sport — it’s much more difficult to find someone who doesn’t garden in some way. So, it got me to thinking. Why are these gardeners so passionate? How did gardening get to be such a big deal? There’s much to be learned from our UK friends, both as individual gardeners and as communities and nations. So let’s get to it — here are 4 garden tips from across the pond.
GLOBAL GARDENS: 4 GARDEN TIPS TO LEARN FROM THE UK
1. Appreciate nature. As in, truly appreciate it. In London, for example, there is four times as much urban green space as in Paris. It’s simply a part of their culture. Plus, when a tree falls in a British park, they often leave it to rot naturally — they’ll prune it for safety, and then let children play on it as it decomposes and enriches the soil over the years. The takeaway? Get involved in your community to protect and develop green spaces, parks, natural areas with native vegetation, and community gardens. When green spaces are the norm, everyone benefits.
2. Ignite your passion. Ever heard of a little thing called the Chelsea Flower Show? It’s only the largest flower and garden show in the entire world, and people are obsessed about it. It’s covered live on television every night with countless people tuning in to hear about gardens, plants, and design. In the UK, gardening is not simply a hobby, a fad, or a passing trend. It’s a way of life. Support your local flower or garden shows, and if your city doesn’t have one, be bold (see #4 below) and spearhead your own! Garden shows are amazing opportunities for people to learn different gardening techniques through seminars, and to be inspired by the display gardens and individual plants.
3. Forego fancy and fleeting fads. UK gardeners plant what looks great and what does well with their soil — they use what works, rather than reaching for the newest shiny trend on the market. Most UK gardeners compost and collect rainwater, because it just makes sense. It’s not an “organic gardening fad,” it’s simply proper gardening. Commit to educating yourself and your community about basic gardening techniques, soil health, and water conservation. After all, even Queen Elizabeth knows her plants and, reportedly, horticultural Latin.
4. Go big or stay home. In the UK, most gardens are fairly small, and the gardeners have learned how to plant those small spaces in ways that create a big impact. Lesson #1: Don’t fill a small garden with tiny plants, unless you want it to look busy, complicated, and uncomfortable. Be bold while still acknowledging the basic design principles of proportion, contrast, and scale. Lesson #2: Combine lots of different plants — trust me, it works. Evergreens, ornamental grasses, flowering perennials, edible plants — don’t be a plant snob. Just do it.