Alan Titchmarsh
Gardener, Broadcaster and Novelist

The factors that make up a civilised society seem to me to have changed considerably over the last century. Advances in medicine, the influence of technology and the maintenance of peace in Europe have all conspired to improve lives but also to change the priorities of society. Once something appears to be settled, it is regarded as a ‘given’ – dangerous when that ‘given’ is world peace, which needs to be constantly worked at if it is to endure. Advances in technology have also resulted in the vast majority of the population losing any kind of feel for or empathy with the natural world – the ‘real’ world – except via television programmes which make it something of a spectator sport, and the now widespread concerns with global warming and the danger of plastic waste building up in the world’s oceans. It is this particular disconnect which worries me, for if individuals do not understand how nature works, they will come to regard it as being intimidating and, at worst, have no idea of how they can take an active personal role in conserving and encouraging the health of the planet, which is intimately tied up with plants and animals in the widest sense. Getting children outdoors and connecting them with nature is vital. If we simply drone on about the damage we are doing to the planet – the ‘don’ts’, if you like – without offering any positive ‘do’s’ – there is a grave danger that individuals regard the future of the planet as being something which is solely in the charge of large national and international bodies. It is not; it is in the hands of every individual. We can, each one of us, make a difference to our own patch, and all those patches joined up make a broader canvas that really does impact on the wider world. Perhaps that’s why I’m a gardener…

Alan Titchmarsh – Gardener, broadcaster and novelist