The Lost Gardens of Suburbia!
The Victorians fostered a huge wave of interest in ornamental gardening and front gardens became a showcase for the suburban gardener, tidy lawns and borders bursting with seasonal colour surrounded by neat hedges and trees were the norm with each trying to compete with his neighbour for the best front garden.
These gardens provided vital rainwater drainage allowing excess water to simply soak harmlessly away. But our rich horticultural history is being lost as more and more front and back gardens are paved over and these oases of suburbia have all but disappeared and are now becoming one massive concrete car park! Seasonal floral displays and green areas have given way to a trend for patios and paved areas for car parking with the consequence that rainwater simply runs straight off overwhelming the local sewerage system which cannot cope with such a deluge.
With weather patterns changing in recent years we have seen periods of torrential rain leading to widespread flooding even in areas that have no history of such events. Smothering our green and cultivated areas in towns with hard landscaping is bound to lead to such flooding becoming much more common. Whilst there is a need for parking there are ways of providing it without paving the whole front garden, strips of pavers with grass or cultivated areas between and around would surely be cheaper and would cause much less damage to the environment!
Throughout the country there are now more properties with paved front gardens than there are gardens with trees! This is also having an effect on wildlife with many of our native birds such as sparrows, thrushes and even starlings that used visit gardens in great numbers now in rapid decline.
Britain is known as a nation of gardeners and there are groups of people emerging who are trying to redress this balance with even small inner city gardens taking up the paving and returning to growing their own flowers, fruit and vegetables once more. Where possible we need to retain and even increase the cultivation of our both our front and back gardens with the pride and enthusiasm of a bygone era - not forgetting the benefits it gives to our health and wellbeing!