Last week I took the train to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, to see one very special garden.
As a Londoner of a few years now, I can’t claim I’m a great gardener – my largest garden was a tiny patch of grass, my smallest, a few window boxes – but I do have an affinity with wildlife (I mean, who doesn’t?)
So I was delighted to hear that RHS Hampton Court’s Flower Show was both taking place, but also promoting a more sustainable future.
On arriving at Hampton Court, I enjoyed a long walk in the sunshine along the Thames to the Palace Gardens, and soon found myself in a sprawling selection of gardens, shows, and stalls. From having a look at the programme beforehand, I knew exactly what I wanted to see, and made a bee-line for the Gardens For A Changing World.
And upon arriving, I was confronted with a box that stretched at least 10 feet into the air. Slats had been removed just below, and just above eye-level, and plant-life pressed against its oppressive sides.
The garden I’m referring to is Joseph Gibson’s Conscious Consumerism.
Everything is connected
Conscious Consumerism is Joseph Gibson’s first garden installation, and it makes a real statement. Once entering his box, you find yourself on a journey across four contrasting sections. Starting in Rainforest Harmony, I found myself surrounded by South American palms and foliage, giving off that humid mist and earthy scent. It was a garden of peace, and true biodiversity.
The second section shows what’s befalling this rainforest: Deforestation. Tree trunks are scattered about a barren, muddy ground pockmarked with divots and dead leaves. Everything is dry, and a stark contrast to the previous space.
Beyond this is corrugated metal, meat hooks, and spatters of blood. The Abbatoir.
And finally, a choice. One space, divided into two: a Desert, with a dead tree and used up oxygen tanks on the right, or a tiny, sprouting shoot of hope on the left.
Feeling more like an art piece than a garden, I spent most of my afternoon here, listening to others’ reactions, and Joseph’s point of view too.
We all play a part
I was so pleased to see Joseph’s garden amongst the other, incredibly pruned and perfected ones. As I said to him: there’s only so much technique you can appreciate: really, it’s about the message.
And his message was the one that brought me all that way, to better understand how we all are making a very real effect on the environment. Having seen deforestation first-hand, he knows how big patches of rainforest are being razed to make way for soya crops. And these soya crops are used to feed livestock, which in turn feeds us.
No matter what your diet choices are, or my own, it’s important to understand that we all play a part in this cycle. Vegetarianism or veganism might reduce your impact, but we also need to start looking for more sustainable ways to raise livestock, and prevent desertification: the process by which fertile land becomes desert, which one fifth of the world’s land is threatened by.