Where the Wild Things Grow

Nature breaks through at Chelsea Fringe 2014

Chelsea, the generally accepted (Grand)mother of all garden shows, wraps up this weekend, but Chelsea Fringe—the young, curious, and sometimes mischievous niece of the dowager event—continues on through June 8.

Garden shows provide a wealth of good ideas, fodder for plant lust, and if we’re very lucky, inspiration and provocation about the world beyond our plot. In other words, the good ones make us look up from our tending and consider how our efforts fit into nature writ large.

Campanula portenschalgiana Shepherd's Bush. Photo: Paul Debois

Campanula portenschalgiana Shepherd’s Bush. Photo: Paul Debois

A part of this year’s Chelsea Fringe, Where the Wild Things Grow is a collaborative exhibition of photos and wild plants along with guided urban nature walks, produced by photographer Paul Debois, gardener, author, and TV presenter, Alys Flowler, and photographer and artist Lynn Keddie.  From the Where the Wild Things Grow website:

However much we try to tame our cities, to bound our flora between concrete and tarmac, to house them in flower beds or pots, they escape.

Between cracks, behind billboards, tucked into forgotten corners, the wilderness grows. Some of these wild things are from here, some have travelled from far away and all have had to adapt and learn to live in the city. They hardly need us, yet exploit our weakness, the cracks in our buildings, the rubbish we leave behind, the places we forget to sweep. We, however, need their wild green.

The appearance of a ‘wildling’ is nature saying it’s quite happy without us interfering.  —Paul Debois

Fortunately, browsing the global garden—the Internet—allows us to take in the spectacle and bounty of garden shows throughout the world and still be around to tend the young seedlings and stake the tomatoes in our own backyard. But after exploring Where the Wild Things Grow maybe we’ll bring fresh eyes to the task of weeding.

An interview with Paul Debois