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BBC Gardeners' World expert warns of 'horticultural appropriation'


Everyone knows that gardening enthusiasts need to beware of greenfly and invasive plant species.

But they also need to watch out for 'horticultural appropriation' when it comes to blossoms and blooms that were originally sourced 'during years of colonialism', according to an expert.

Writing in the BBC Gardeners' World magazine, landscape designer Jackie Herald said she always tries to chose plants that 'connect to my client's cultural heritage' when she is working on a garden.

Ms Herald, also a lecturer and writer, wrote that specimens of thousands of 'perennial favourites' had been sourced by 'plant hunters' in the era of colonialism and 'power-grabbing global trade'.

She said 'cultural appropriation' sees a 'dominant culture' borrowing 'motifs and ideas belonging to a minority or less powerful culture'.

Ms Herald gave the example of an 'Aboriginal dot painting' being used as a 'planting plan' for a 'contemporary English garden'.

Her woke-sounding remarks appear to open up a new front in the culture wars, which have seen statues torn down, moved or removed because of colonial links to slavery.

It comes after a 2021 sightseeing guide funded by Transport for London had claimed wisteria has 'colonial roots' and said that there were 'colonial connotations' to describing plants as 'exotic'.

In her article for the June edition of the Gardeners' World magazine, which is owned by Immediate Media not the BBC, Ms Herald writes: 'Embedded within cross-cultural borrowing is horticultural appropriation, something that's all too easy for our nation of gardeners to carry on regardless.

'In many cases, the abundant plant selections that we now take for granted did not come via free-willing exchanges, but were sourced by plant hunters during years of colonialism and power-grabbing global trade.

'This includes thousands of specimens that are now perennial favourites.'

She wrote: 'I now think twice before dropping "exotic" plants in as a titillating splash of wow factor.'