I’m tired of being lectured by every gardening magazine and newspaper article about ‘bio-diversity’. Most of what they say is frankly patronizing tosh. ‘Don’t forget to leave some stinging nettles for the butterflies’ indeed. I’m afraid it’s just not my T-shirt. Mine says: ‘Save our planet: it’s the only one with chocolate’. Any sense of proportion (let alone humour) has disappeared from the wildlife obsessives who try to scare us into planting ‘natives’ in our gardens.
Is it partly the guilt complex of the urban / suburban gardener who spends twenty times as much on decking and ‘water features’ than on anything that grows and needs looking after?
Native nature is far from benign. Grey squirrels are totally destructive, with no redeeming virtues. Moorhens are aggressive predators: we no longer have ducklings, and rarely ducks. Herons prey on our fish. Badgers dig us up and seem to have eaten all our hedgehogs. Muntjac, admittedly not native, browse everything up to two feet or so; above that it’s roe deer, and above four feet probably red. Pigeons not only eat the crops; they peck the canopies out of trees. Moles destroy the lawns; foxes the hens. Less activity from all these pretty creatures would be welcome – and yet the mantra (in many cases supported by law) is to cheer them on.
Gardening is not a natural activity. It is an effort to take control of nature for a specific aesthetic or economic purpose. To garden well we must learn nature’s laws – and then discriminate against the ones that frustrate our purpose. Gardening organizations and publications that put ‘bio-diversity’ first are losing sight of what gardening means.