Urgent action must be taken to arrest the march towards concrete gardens, according to Alex Cunningham, with both existing properties and those yet to be constructed in need of gardens which are environmentally friendly if we are to avert the risk of flooding caused by heavy rainfall.
Speaking at the first RHS Greening Grey Britain Front Garden Summit in his role as Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment, held recently at the Chelsea Flower Show, the Labour MP spoke of the damaging impact that the loss of front gardens is having around the country, as well as highlighting the positive benefits that greenery can bring for individuals and communities alike.
Research commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society found that only ten per cent of people said growing plants in their front gardens was an activity in which they would like to get involved. Coupled with the sharp increase in the number of paved front gardens, this finding illustrates the need for decisive action to be taken.
The summit was chaired by RHS Vice President, Alan Titchmarsh, who challenged the audience of horticulturists, national and regional politicians, public policy figures, planners and engineers to work together to halt the destruction of environmentally and socially important green spaces across the country. He also volunteered to buy, plant and maintain urns of plants outside 10 Downing Street, on what he described as the “greyest frontage known to man”, in order to raise the profile of front gardens.
“It was a privilege to be invited to be part of the panel for this maiden meeting of the Front Garden Summit and I was pleased to be able to raise awareness of the many issues that surface as a result of the demise of important greenery in our front gardens.
“Gardens play a crucial role in urban and suburban areas alike, and will become more important as our climate changes. From helping protect against floods and extremes of temperature to supporting wildlife and improving the health of those that tend them, gardens can provide an amazing range of benefits.
“With more than three million front gardens completely paved over in the last decade, and more than seven million having been partially paved, the size of the challenge in front of us becomes clear. We must act now to restore and revitalise our nation’s front gardens, to inspire more people to get their hands dirty and discover the joys that gardening can bring, and to replace grey surfaces with plants and greenery.”