Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Parching England

What would make the Royal Horticultural Society consider succulents?

No one says “verdant” with an American accent. Only English gardens are “verdant”—lush and slightly floppy, crowded with bluebells, cabbage roses, and towers of foxgloves. While we fry on the prairies of America, there’s still the dream of Albion, men with snaggly teeth, and all that greenery.


Sissinghurst: Is cactus coming?

Photo: Rosebud’s Tours

So the Telegraph’s recent gardening story comes as a hideous puncture wound. The paper cites that custodian of verdure The Royal Horticultural Society as announcing that “we in Britain may well have to adjust our planting schemes to compensate for harsher, less forgiving weather and probably drought conditions.

That’s a polite way of breaking the news. It seems that global warming is reaching the British Isles. Lily of the valley may give way to lantana, and fields of clover to buffalo grass. (Here’s the BBC’s take on the same sad story.)

The Telegraph tries to paste an appealing face on this disaster, interviewing gardening expert—and native New Zealander—Anthony Paul. He’d like to make you believe that succulents can be happy substitutes for “sissy British plants.” For England’s new era, he recommends such species as “hebes, phormiums, many carex species, and griselinia…, libertias, pratias, corokias and Stipa arundinacea.” If you say so.

“I planned and planted the rivers of succulents that flow through the garden, aiming to create an energising life force leading back to the house - mainly with large groups of echeverias, and low cabbage-shaped succulents in glaucous blues and wine reds.” I’m not sure. What if one’s life force is a matter of nasturtiums and gladiolas, rather than “rivers” of anything?

Just as Paul’s pro-Kiwi pitch began to sound convincing, though, we glimpsed the long-range plan: “gravel gardens.” I’m not kidding. Read to the end of the Telegraph story and you’ll see.

Let’s hope that with England’s ancient genius for green plants (plus the RHS and all its friends in His and Her high-places) this article sets off yet another alarm, and activism on global warming. Nothing against New Zealand or its flowers, we’d like England to be verdant forever.

Posted by Julie on 06/29 at 05:21 PM
Culture & SocietyEcologyGardening & LandscapePermalink