Great British Garden Revival ★★★★✰
To save our variety of wild flowers, Prince Charles launched the Coronation Meadows project last year to mark the Diamond Jubilee, picking 60 ancient meadows to protect. During the past century, a shocking 98 per cent of meadows have been lost to farming, forestry or urban sprawl, and almost all our 1,300 native wild flowers have been wiped out.
The meadows are being preserved by old-fashioned methods, as Monty Don discovered in Great British Garden Revival (BBC2), a new series intended to get us growing things again.
He tried cutting grass with a scythe — this traditional method gives the field mice a chance to flee, but I can’t see it replacing the hover-mower on suburban lawns.
Monty’s idea for scattering wild flower seeds all over the back garden is also unlikely to catch on. But his notion for a mini-meadow in an old tin bath was a winner.
Seeing Monty create a floral haven from a heap of junk and broken pottery was an entertainment, like watching the classic Blue Peter team being ingenious with used toilet rolls and sticky-backed plastic. Enthusiastic telly is always a pleasure, and this was passionate stuff.
Gardener Joe Swift was urging us to stop paving over our front gardens and start sprucing up the wasteland between doorstep and pavement.
One avenue on Tyneside had been transformed into a semi-rainforest after residents started with hanging baskets and got carried away. They discovered that greenery discouraged gangs of youths from hanging around, and even deterred litter bugs.
But the sight of people gardening on that scale isn’t so much inspirational as intimidating. We’re not all green-fingered — for many of us, concreting the flowerbeds is simply a quicker and cheaper alternative to planting lots of rose bushes and watching them die.
Joe’s more simple ideas, like wrapping a clematis round a drainpipe, looked easier. But England’s heritage as a green and pleasant land seems very distant.