Monday, 19 May 2014

Healthy Landscapes

'Blue' landscapes are at least as good for us as 'green'?  That's just one result from the latest research on the benefits of spending time in the natural world reported at the Garden Museum's symposium on 'Healthy Landscapes'.

copyright Liz Ware
It was an excellent day of inspirational presentations, so why were some of us slightly uneasy?  Was it because, as one delegate pointed out, not all the benefits of time in green (or blue) space are quantifiable or easily collected through research?

We are having to play the numbers game to prove the value of green space to those who, until recently, were not prepared to listen. But is this a game that works well in a business setting but is lacking when we're discussing the natural world?

What happens, in our tick box culture, to a garden related project that has to justify its existence statistically in order to survive?  If it can't describe all the benefits it creates in statistical terms, will it receive the funding it deserves?

We're squeamish about mentioning it, but there is more to us than mind and body.  The connection between our soul and the soil has been recognised by man since the beginning of time.  If we ignore this fact when we are quantifying the benefits of green space we're leaving something vital out of the equation.  But there might be a solution.

Anyone who has ever been involved in buying or selling a business will agree that 'goodwill' is 'a thing very easy to describe, very difficult to define'. As HM Customs and Revenue website points out, the fact that goodwill is difficult to show 'on a balance sheet does not mean that it doesn't exist'.

If we're not brave enough to acknowledge the spiritual value of nature just yet, can we at least ensure that this benefit (as difficult to measure and describe as goodwill) can be included in every assessment of healthy landscapes.  If we don't, some very worthwhile projects risk missing out on funding.

copyright Liz Ware
Whether you live in a green, blue or predominantly grey landscape, you will have noticed that we're having a bumper May.  What a joy to be surrounded by bluebells, cow parsley, hawthorn, cuckoos and swifts all at once - the entire month's delights in one sitting.

Of course, May also brings with it the excitement of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.  Anyone feeling the need for a break from the crowds will find an intriguing exhibition in the peace and tranquillity of the Garden Museum.

'Alan Titchmarsh: 50 years of Gardening' is running from 19 May to 31 August.  It tells the story of the changes that have taken place in gardens and gardening since the 1960s when Alan started work as a teenage apprentice in a municipal nursery.  This recent history is interwoven with a personal narrative, told through 101 garden-related objects.

Don't forget the Chelsea Fringe.  If you don't venture to London this year, there are plenty of Fringe activities happening elsewhere.  Look out for Bristol's Get Growing Trail  and events in Kent, Brighton and even Vienna.

Looking ahead to 21 and 22 June, Arley Hall and Gardens near Knutsford are celebrating their 20th garden festival this year.  Anyone booking a ticket before 16 June has the opportunity to win breakfast with Chris Beardshaw and with Lord Ashbrook, whose family have lived at Arley Hall for more than 500 years.  A good opportunity for a garden history conversation perhaps?

No comments:

Post a Comment