The RHS and the Wildlife Trusts have re-launched a joint wildlife gardening website at a high-profile event at the London Flower show.
I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the launch of the all new Wild About Gardens
website at the RHS's Lawrence Hall in London. It had everything: celebrities (Diarmuid Gavin and Julia Carling on hand for the photo call), good nosh (coffee and biscuits) good company (lots of like-minded wildlife gardeners) and even a fight! It was, as they say in these parts of Lancashire, a Ding Dang Do! Okay I lied about the fight - but there was
a very lively debate. In the red corner was Peter Seabrook - horticulturalist and veteran broadcaster - and in the blue corner was Chris Baines - wildlife gardening heavyweight champion.
Prickly subject: handle with care. Diarmuid Gavin and friends with the hedgehog.
After the initial scripted launch speeches from Andrew Colquhoun (RHS director general), Stephanie Hilborne (Wildlife Trusts Chief Executive) and Simon Thornton-Wood (RHS Assistant Director of Science and Learning), questions were invited from the audience. Peter Seabrook took everyone a bit by surprise by immediately questioning whether a partnership between the Wildlife Trusts and the RHS was appropriate since, he asserted, there was a conflict of interests. Several other members of the audience leapt to the defence of the partnership but it fell to Chris Baines (apparently an old sparring partner of Peter's) to deliver the knock out blow with a good reasoned argument in favour of the partnership.
Chris said that there was an inevitability about the coming together of gardening interests and concerns for wildlife and that wildlife gardening had a role to play in 'real conservation'
Chris said that there was an inevitability about the coming together of gardening interests and concerns for wildlife and that wildlife gardening had a role to play in 'real conservation', not just 'entertainment'. Chris also made the point that wildlife gardeners had a lot to learn from the plantsmanship of horticulturalists.
As the dust settled, Diarmuid Gavin (sadly reluctant to join in the fray) and Julia Carling stepped forward to have photographs taken with a couple of children (dressed as a ladybird and a bumblebee) and a real hedgehog. As the photos were taken, a pair of likely lads rearranged the chairs for the next event and I overheard one say to the other "I heard they could be vicious things"
- I think he was referring to the hedgehog, not the gardeners!