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garden tales from a Brit abroad

Edens beyond the razor wire

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.

Edens beyond the razor wire, photograph by Lalage Snow, from RHS The Garden, December 2013.

Edens beyond the razor wire, photograph by Lalage Snow, reproduced with permission, from RHS The Garden, December 2013.

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3 comments on “Edens beyond the razor wire

  1. trollag
    December 13, 2013

    I agree. More “real gardening” required.

  2. diversifolius
    December 14, 2013

    A most amazing, powerful image! It reminded me of Harrison’s book ‘Gardens – an essay on the human condition’, and his message that humanity has to keep concentrate on the forces of cultivation amidst destruction and annihilation. We have to cultivate OUR garden!

  3. Ioana
    December 15, 2013

    thank you for this very interresting post! Most of us totally ignore that places that to us are presented only as uterly desolated areas, are in fact the craddle of oriental gardening! Afghanistan is one of them and it is really touching to see that even under terrible conditions, people still dedicate time to creating beauty.

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This entry was posted on December 13, 2013 by in Book reviews, Gardens, UK and tagged , .

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