Burying bad taste – part 1 – re-brand gardening

Burying bad taste – part 1 – re-brand gardening


Brown and white variegated pansies and apricot Antirrhinums sitting in a plastic window box above wooden decking. It’s not gardening as you or I would choose it to be known, but unfortunately our passion has been tarnished with the brush of bad taste.

Chelsea Physic Garden

The stylish face of gardening we should be showing to the public – an area of the Chelsea Physic Garden where Nick Bailey is head gardener

I believe gardening is cool. It ticks all the boxes of geek-chic with botany. Exudes style with cutting edge design. Requires intelligence and layers of knowledge to be the best. Yet this all feels hidden behind the weeds of the mass public’s perception.

“gardening is cool. It ticks all the boxes of geek-chic with botany”

Here’s the problem, articles like this “Allotments a very British passion” in The Telegraph resisting the desires of gardeners to make allotments ‘attractive’, clinging onto dated habits. And worse, knocking new gardeners for wanting to mix productivity with a beautiful environment to be in. Couple this with plant catalogues that can still look a little like they were designed in the 80s. You can forgive those stylish non-gardeners for feeling a little unwelcome.

Don’t get me wrong – each to their gnome. What someone chooses to do behind their potting shed is their choice. Nor is this anything to do with age – I value extremely highly gardening’s mix of generations – bad taste can strike whether you’re 18 or 80 afterall. But something must change.

“I value extremely highly gardening’s mix of generations”

I would like to encourage all who garden to help project a more contemporary, aspirational image to the world. Let’s entice more smart people in by outweighing bad taste gardening tackiness with the aspects we love. Good taste attracts good taste.

There are many good taste heroes in gardening already. Sarah Raven, Nick Bailey and Chiltern Seeds to name but a few. Somehow we must raise these ambassadors to the lofty heights of The One Show before it runs another feature on tomatoes in grow bags.

We need to work together, using every means possible, to get out there and present the non-gardening public with a different image. The real image with the savvy, stylish aspects of gardening. Yes, there is mud but that’s half the glamour.

“We need to work together…to get out there and present the non-gardening public with a different image”

So pick up your trendy trowels and march with me as we bury bad taste at the back of the compost bins. Forget the clashing pansies and march shoulder to shoulder through fields of Echinacea drenched prairie plantings, armed with camera phones and social media. Let’s get out there and show the world what gardening – and I say the word proudly – is really about.

Are you with me? Let me know what you think in the comments below.


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  1. 2
    Katherine Crouch

    I do think that garden centres need to rethink how they present their plants for sale. we would not go to a supermarket and expect the food to be displayed from A to Z

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