Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.
Landscaping Solutions MD Ben West explains why we need to get back in touch with nature and that compromise is key.
In last months article I focused mainly on the theoretical and practical problems we face in our relationship with the environment. If we are to continue to pursue the goal of ‘economic growth’, this term must come to mean something very different than hitherto. Going forward, all our actions must be scrutinised through the lens of sustainability or regeneration. Our current nescience in this area stems from our conceptual disconnect from nature. I stress ‘conceptual’ because it is all in the mind; literal disconnect from nature is impossible, for what are we but natural through and through? We have lost sight of this truth and therein lies the problem.
Lifestyles and schooling have blinded us to nature and our place in it. Worse still, many of us are filled with fear of plants, insects, fungi and the landscapes they inhabit. Those blind to nature have no incentive to love and nurture it. When we fall out of love, indifference and neglect set in. When we fall out of love with nature, we neglect ourselves.
COVID-19 can rekindle the flame. Nature is courting us again. She has asked us to slow down so that we might renew our acquaintance. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and there’s blossom on the vine. She is giving us another chance to remember who she is and how good we are together. Maybe we could give it another shot? Let’s allow ourselves to fall under her spell once more. Let’s reaffirm our vows, and this time, let’s honour them. We would do well to remember that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. If we fall back into our gallivanting, will her benevolence endure?
Successful relationships are built on compromise. For this relationship to be more than just a fleeting affair we need to meet her halfway. We need to surrender the conceit of the world as dead matter at our disposal and dismantle our dominator culture in order to learn lessons from life forms far older than us that have evolved to live harmoniously with nature; plants, for instance. They can be the great levellers. Let them be our teachers and the garden our classroom - or more appropriately our forum, for this is a conversation, an exchange of ideas amongst equals.
All gardens have something in common whether we like it or not - weeds. I’ve written previously of the biodiversity benefits of allowing weeds to grow. What if I told you consuming weeds can also help us remember who we are? As I write I see before me a host of garden weeds; dandelion, herb robert, nipplewort, plantain, sow thistle, sorrel, ramsons, goosefoot, cleavers, bittercress, burdock. I could go on. All have long nourished and healed us. The rediscovery of a forgotten world of varied flavours and textures, a world beyond the restricted palette of supermarket fruit and veg, is liberating and empowering. It’s also an act of defiance; we are connected once more to our ancestry and environment on a visceral level. Food and medicine are not only found upon shelves, they are products of the feral earth. The health benefits are myriad, both in the inherent nutritional value of the wild foodstuffs and the healing communion with nature. Thousands of years of evolution cannot be quashed in a handful of generations. This stuff is deep within us. Most describe this kind of reconnection as a ‘coming home’.
Weeds in ‘wild’ gardens expose us to a more intimate, egalitarian, interconnected understanding of nature, and thereby of ourselves. A great deal is at stake if we do not regain our capacity to converse with her. Small steps shall set us on our way.
Landscaping Solutions team of talented garden designers and craftspeople are passionate about creating and managing ecological, sustainable and resilient gardens fit for the 21st century. Get in touch to get the ball rolling on your project in 2021.
“Stop the world I want to get off!” We have probably all said it. The current cessation of ‘business as usual’ offers us all the opportunity for serious contemplation on the trajectory of our species. A rare period of respite from the rat race. COVID-19 has enabled us to step outside ‘the machine’ for a new perspective. A chance to make collective changes to it or personal changes to our lives within it. We are usually so seduced by its gears and gadgets we fail to pay full attention to its failings. Perhaps that’s why the children have been leading the way. Not yet indoctrinated, they are free to see its inner workings with unfettered clarity. Witness how they turned away in disgust upon seeing how all things are mangled up in its motors.
The manner in which the machine has been so swiftly brought to its knees is alarming and, in light of the looming climate situation, highly likely to reoccur. Do we really want to continue with business as usual? Can we reorganise ourselves in a way that works harmoniously with nature and recognises humanity’s role in the web of life, a key part of the puzzle rather than a puzzled interloper?
All the recent turmoil - Brexit, COVID-19, climate change - sees humanity at a crossroads, forced to reflect on the next step. What kind of creatures are we? What kind of creatures do we want to be? What kind of world do we want to live in? What relationships do we wish to cultivate with all other creatures and our planet? Do we really want business as usual, as destructive as that has been?
It’s also time for our industry to reflect on these questions. How much of what we have achieved through landscaping and design has been beneficial? For every client with a ‘no maintenance’ outdoor room, every unsustainable show garden, every neatly manicured park, there’s a child labourer, a polluted waterway, a displaced aboriginal or a degraded peat bog. How does this make us feel? Can we continue to turn a blind eye? What do the young people we so desperately covet make of our industry? Are they enamoured with its current state? We need to reimagine ourselves so as to be as attractive as possible to the best of their talent, those wanting to join a movement leading the way and making a difference.
Humanity has the tools to shape its visions, God-like in its ability to manipulate itself, culture and landscape. First, it must clearly define the vision for which it strives. Much current decision making is under the stewardship of those exploiting the planet and its inhabitants in order to turn a short-term profit or maintain power. Will heightened awareness of the planet’s plight and its exploited societies and cultures reach enough of a crescendo to turn the tide?
Rather than business as usual we need a paradigm shift. Without structural revolution we are due to experience more of the same, but exponentially worse. How can we allow ourselves to consider going back to business as usual? Let’s use this time constructively by listening to what nature is telling us and then planning how to emerge transformed. People are looking for leadership. As landscape professionals, we are closer to nature than most and therefore better able to understand what the ‘new world’ needs to look like in order to go forward in a sustainable and regenerative manner. It is our duty to win over as many hearts and minds as possible. If we fail to rise to the challenge, there may soon be no business to go back to.
At Landscaping Solutions we’d like to assure you of the measures we have put in place to protect our clients and our staff during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Landscaping and building work is still permitted, and obviously staff are unable to work from home, so our policy is to continue with business as usual but working closely to the following guidelines,” says Ben West.
If you’re one of our regular maintenance clients, you’ll already have received an email outlining the procedures we have in place to protect you and our staff. If you’re worried about any aspect at all, please give us a ring or email us and we’ll talk it through with you. We will, in any case, be in contact before our arrival at your home.
We work with a number of award-winning garden designers in Surrey and South West London and now is an excellent time for your clients to think about what changes would allow them to enjoy their garden all the more.
If you’re a homeowner, this period of enforced staying at home is an opportunity to really appreciate the garden and consider those changes you’ve wanted to make for so long.
We’re happy to advise over the phone or on a site visit (adhering to our new modus operandi outlined above), whether you would prefer to defer work to a later date or get a beautiful new garden to enjoy before the arrival of full summer.
Contact Ben to discuss.