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Diarmuid Gavin is a respected name in the horticultural world, having won a gold medal at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show. He also designed a large range of parks across Ireland, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, China and Africa. Designated Attorney for International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) * by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (The FAOGavin spoke to the United Nations before that World Bee Day About bees, aristocrats and getting really down to earth.
“We do not just grow the gardens for ourselves, but for the entire ecosystem.”
“If we don’t have pollinators, we won’t have food, it’s that simple. If we keep pumping phosphates and nitrates into the ground to give higher yields all the time, we will destroy the Earth’s natural resources. We have to take care of the entire ecosystem and that really starts with our gardens.”
We don’t just grow the gardens for ourselves, but for the entire ecosystem. The good thing is that people understand the message, local government understands the message and people understand that simple wildflowers are open for bees to collect pollen.
We have to realize that gardening is no longer a 1950s version of housekeeping. It’s not about the perfect green lawns. The humble dandelion is a wonderful source of pollen.
Don’t believe the chemical companies’ ads, and don’t believe our lawns have to be nearly painted green by pushing chemicals into them. Think, “What do insects and bees need?” And maybe park in a slightly untidy way to create a habitat.
Distant lands plunder
There is a lot of injustice in gardening and a lot of “social gardening” linked to aristocratic endeavors and higher orders. This takes a while to break down.
The history of British landscape gardens has a long aristocratic tradition dating back to Charles I. It is difficult to separate this aristocratic heritage from the challenges of our current social reality, but this is a challenge we must face.
There has been a lot of plunder of faraway lands to get really beautiful plants which are only useful for large nurseries and seed houses. I think we have to come to terms with all of that and bring BLM (Black Lives Matter) into it. After George Floyd (the African American guy killed by a police officer in 2020), people bring equality in every area of life and gardening doesn’t get away with it.
I think it will have a huge impact on the shows, on institutions like the Royal Horticultural Society (the organizer of the Chelsea Flower Show), and I think the dramatic effect is just around the corner.
We have to think holistically about horticulture. I am honored to go around the world and talk to people about gardening and the right way to care for soil, soil health and climate health.
However, westerners who travel can do a lot of damage. I was in Italy last year and saw hundreds of miles of olive trees damaged by xylella fastidiosa and wreaking havoc on olive oil production. If someone came back to Ireland with a plant with this fungal disease, there would be devastation.
The magic of nature
We all go through rough times right now and run to the garden where most of the frequent gardening work – like weeding, watering, hoeing, and planting – takes your mind off everything else.
Gardening is inherently a hopeful thing as you turn away from any activity you think “What am I going to do next year, what will it look like this year?” Which is cool.
The satisfaction of seeing new growth, new energy, new life, it is the magic of nature.
And if we don’t want sterile environments where birds aren’t singing and there are no trees, then we need to take care of any environments around us.
International Year of Plant Health
- Food and Agriculture Organization International Year of Plant Health (Extended through July 2021), it provides a critical opportunity to enhance global awareness of how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, boost economic development and protect the environment.
- These plant health benefits serve as the basis for the six central messages of the International Year of Plant Health: preserving plant health to achieve zero hunger and Sustainable Development Goals; Be careful when transporting plants and plant products across borders; Make trade in plants and plant products safe by complying with international phytosanitary standards; Preserving the health of plants while protecting the environment; Investing in plant health capacity development, research and outreach; Strengthening monitoring and early warning systems for plant protection and plant health.
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