Gardens facing crisis?Are we no longer a nation of gardeners?

07 October 2005

British gardens are facing "challenging times" according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

The conclusion came from the recent RHS Debate 2005, which discussed the motion 'Private passion or national indifference: is gardening still core to the British way of life?'

A spokesperson for the RHS said: 'Private gardens are getting smaller and some large gardens are being classed as brown-field sites and designated for housing.'

They also claimed there is a 'critical shortage' of professional gardeners.

The downfall of gardening as a traditional British hobby has been blamed on the lack of leisure time available, with families paying people to attend to their gardens rather than doing the work themselves.

Another factor being held responsible is the plethora of TV gardening shows, which give people unrealistic expectations.

Sheffield University's Professor James Hitchmough, a lecturer in landscape architecture, told Radio 4's Today programme, 'A lot of people are very keen on gardening in one sense, but it's about trying to create a picture which you constantly see in the plethora of glossy magazines and books, rather than getting their hands dirty.'

Yet TV expert Alan Titchmarsh said he believed shows like Ground Force actually encouraged more people into gardening.

And, while Gardening Which? agrees that the face of gardening is certainly changing, it argues this is not a bad thing.

'Manicured lawns, beds replanted twice a year and immaculately trimmed hedges may be in decline, but they're being replaced by gardens as havens from the stress and strain of modern life, by veg plots producing fresh and healthy produce for families and by mini nature reserves providing a home for wildlife. Gardening today is all about diversity, and we're all for it!'