Mistaken identity

blue bellsIt’s pouring with rain, I’ve lost three umbrellas in as many days, so what better time to tackle the garden than a wet bank holiday weekend? The annual attempt to bend nature to our will by creating a mini centre court from the mud and mayhem of last winter’s floods surrounded by a cottage garden border of lavender, lupins and larkspur may be as traditional as a Wimbledon washout, but according to BBC Gardeners’ World this habit may be dying out. According to a survey the magazine carried out last week, when it comes to vegetation, most of us don’t know our asters from our elbow.

Fewer than 2% of us can name all of the five most common native trees and only a third can name five of the most common flowers – and that’s including the bluebell!

The news has caused Gardeners’ World presenter Alan Titchmarsh some distress. He’s worried that Twitter has replaced the sound of birdsong and that a whole generation is growing up completely oblivious to the beauty of the natural world. He told the Western Morning News, “It is worrying that the next generation is not being awakened to the delights of the great outdoors – once common knowledge, but now a mystery to millions more familiar with Facebook and Twitter.” http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Survey-shows-countryside-ignorance/story-21043303-detail/story.html

He may be right, but although I can understand his fears, I don’t think we should confuse lack of knowledge with lack of interest. I may not be able to name an ash tree at 50 paces, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate its beauty. I don’t need to know a television works to appreciate the miracle of 24-hour news. After all, when I’m home alone it’s touch and go whether I can even turn the thing on, and I think it’s the same with plants. It was only a couple of years ago, when a neighbour began scrumping the crab apples from our tree to make crab apple jelly, that we realised what sort of tree it was and stopped calling it “the blossom tree”, but that hadn’t stopped us from looking forward to it flowering every year.

Just because we can’t remember something’s name doesn’t mean we can’t love and cherish it – now I most go, it’s time to pick up what’shername from school.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn


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