- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Blog, Feature
How big is a garden? Do you know those annoying people whose answer to a question like that is to ask how long is a piece of string?
My answer is that a garden is as big or as small as you want it to be. I bought a house that had room at the front for a parked car. That is how big it was. However, before long it was a garden full of flowers. No one would think of giving its measurements in terms of how many cars could be parked there.
I’m a gardener not because I think it’s a duty. I do it because I enjoy it. Having said that, gardens do deliver a public good, to use the political jargon.
For one thing, where does rain water go when a garden is concreted over? It doesn’t soak into the soil below, that’s certain. It doesn’t feed the plants, the grass and the flowers, either.
Have you noticed how many houses have had the bit of lawn at the front tarmacked over? It seems to be happening more and more.
The Environment Agency estimates that two-thirds of houses affected by sudden heavy rainfall are flooded from surface-water runoff not from river flooding. That is why, a few years ago, I put forward what was then called a Legislative Competence Order to introduce planning regulations to deal with the problem of “urban creep” as it is called. The recent awful flooding in west Wales included instances of this sort of flooding.
More gardens would also mean more gardeners and that would be a good thing. Gardening is a social activity. It’s not just because you talk to the people who are passing, it’s also because you share tips and even cuttings.
I live near a school and the children like coming over to look at the garden. Sunflowers are much more interesting than a slab of grey concrete.
I haven’t even started on the back gardens. In many parts of Wales that is where the vegetables were traditionally grown. In these days of self-sufficiency and locally-grown produce the arguments in favour are obvious.
What is less obvious are the benefits to the environment and the advantages to the planet. Just think of the number of back gardens that we have in our village, town and city centres. Collectively they are an important force for good for our environment.