The Royal Horticultural Society’s monthly members’ journal The Garden is a predictable mix of plant profiles, gardening tips and lists of UK gardens to visit. It is glossy and pleasant and pretty safe.
So it was heartening this month to see it branching out into a different kind of journalism, with Edens beyond the razor wire, an article on gardens in the war zones of Afghanistan, Palestine and Israel. The photographs, by Lalage Snow, are stunning, showing how people will plant gardens in tiny inhospitable places and while under the daily threat of death. The title is eye-catching and one of the photos heads up the contents list on page 3 (it would have been even better on the cover, rather than the usual macro shot of seasonal plants). My only gripe would be that the accompanying text could have done with some firmer editing (for instance, one of the men interviewed is described as “Mohammad, aged 105,” with no comment at all on that improbable length of life).
As a longtime RHS member I was cheered at the decision to take a different, thought-provoking look at what drives us to garden. May such off-beat articles become a regular feature of all gardening journals.