Friday, June 24, 2011

Thus spake Noel Kingsbury

NK seems to have positioned himeself as the voice for the wilderness in the UK garden scene and it seems the USA have taken to him (the prairie crowd) according to an article he published on a blog. (don't wish to promote them)
It read as a rather smug and condescending tip the lid to the USA as all 'growed up' and getting it right because SOME folk have discovered this 'prairie' thing as the way to go.
I find this paragraph to be somewhat amusing and i am quite sure old Christo (Christopher Lloyd)  if he were alive might say otherwise.

For those of you who would wish to remind me what I have just said about inappropriate plantings in landscape halfway across the world, what actually appeals to us is that the prairie stuff fits into our landscapes far better than the (mostly) Southern Hemisphere spikies that have become popular over the last few years: phormiums, yuccas, kniphofias. A prairie planting in front of a range of British hills, woods and hedge-divided fields does not look that out of place."

(Just how many UK gardeners enjoy the luxury of "a range of British hills, woods and hedge-divided fields " ?)

I would like to know who the 'us' are ..I am quite sure the 'many' who have enjoyed some selected 'spikies' like Kniphofia,Yucca etc would have something entirely different to say.
I tried to post a comment on the above  blog to no avail..its seems the moderators of that site only want 'fluffy' comments and do not wish to enter into any 'real' discussion. ('wild' indeed!)


  1. Why would American prairie plantings be appropriate in the UK if Gondwana plantings are not? IE Why would either be especially appropriate?

  2. Faisal, its all part of the push of 'Pseudo Ecological' which I am more than comfortable with anywhere on the planet but i rather think NKs observations are more about patting himself on the back for his trumpeting of the 'prairie' stuff over many many books. I am all for any 'look' just as long as it is gentle on the fast dwindling natural resources used in ornamental horticulture.

  3. Most Brits live in cities as do we here in AU and I daresay the USA and can have any 'look' we wish behind our walls and fences or even the street for that matter..
    "a range of British hills, woods and hedge-divided fields "

    Silly in the extreme.

  4. As this past winter in Europe has proven, many of the plants from the Southern hemisphere aren't appropriate on grounds of hardiness alone, except in protected gardens. And the Germans, in particular, have worked with "American prairie plants" in very creative ways for several decades now. I know of one very successful small urban garden in London that does successfully use many Southern hemisphere plants, and the owner has one of my favorite blogs:

    Anyway, climate is changing. Who knows what gardening will be in 50 years?

  5. Its not about the plants James its the attitude...

  6. I note that there does seem to be this 'spiky' vs. non spiky divide among gardeners. Curious. Personally, I don't see how one can relegate such large swaths of herbage to 'inappropriateness'. Billy it right in that it has more to do with attitude and/or mindset. For, being a left-coaster American, the whole 'prairie thing' is inappropriate to most of my garden projects, not to mention irrelevant (as most of those plants go solidly dormant in our mild winter growing season).

  7. Sean same here..the English style garden makers regard the bolder foliaged (NKs spikies) as vulgar. I for one regard any plant as fair game for a garden wherever one might live..they are after all just components of a whole.