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Landscape designer Franchesca Watson advocates for embracing Nature’s disarray and imperfect beauty

Gardening now is about creating green spaces that feel good for ourselves and the planet

By House & Garden South Africa | August 1, 2022 | Gardens

The world has changed over the past few years – and with it, our attitudes to just about everything. Our lives seem to have become more serious, so even our gardens, a source of great joy, are no longer merely light-hearted in conception but heading in a more considered direction. Gone are the days when gardens and plants were there for visual pleasure alone – or as superficial show pieces to augment equally showy homes. one could argue they still provide these functions but in a more complex and nuanced way. We desire our gardens to not only be beautiful, but to improve our world on many levels, be sustainable, bio-diverse, useful, educational and helpful to nature.

This year, the overall winner at the Chelsea Flower Show 2022, the premier garden show of the most gardening-addicted nation in the world, said it all. The garden, entitled ‘are wilding Britain Landscape’, does not really even fall into what most of us understand a garden to be and has prompted much debate on the point. after all, rewilding is not about controlling nature but allowing nature to do its own thing. The point is, we understand that our planet as we know it is changing and not necessarily in a positive way; and that our yearning now is to somehow undo the damage and help in our own small way. Many of us are educating and disciplining ourselves to re-evaluate old behaviours. There is a new impetus to change habits that no longer serve by adjusting our values – including norms of visual beauty.

Suddenly, the disorder vegetable gardens, meadow planting and natural pools no longer look unkempt and poorly manicured, but appear hopeful, joyous and positive. They attract birds, butterflies and bees, all wildlife not as prolific as it once was. They are glimpses of vibrant, healthy nature rather than manually controlled regiments of ordered plants. We’re experiencing more natural and less controlled gardens as deeply reassuring, fascinating and beautiful. despite the control freak inside many of us, our instinctual visual leanings are taking us down the garden path and out into wild gardens, making us dizzy with new knowledge and understanding – and the potential of a new world. Click here for more.