Where once flowers bloomed

News reports this week have described the “tidal wave of grey” that is sweeping the nation after research by the RHS found that three times as many front gardens are now concreted over compared to ten years ago. One in four UK front gardens are now completely paved over and nearly one in three front gardens have no plants.

The main reason behind the concrete tsunami is, of course, the lack of parking. We are a tiny, congested island, and we need somewhere to park the 38 million vehicles that are licenced to drive on our roads; paving our front gardens to enable off-street parking is the obvious solution. But to pave a front garden in its entirety and not retain any greenery seems completely thoughtless. What an unimaginative lot we are! Surely a tiny flower bed can be squeezed in somewhere? Or at least one small pot of blooms?


Social historian Dr Joe Moran attributes the decline in front gardens, something we once took great pride in (as much for our neighbours’ benefit as for our own), to our diminished connections to our neighbourhoods.

 “As our social networks have expanded to become more complex, we have become less concerned about how we are perceived by our neighbours,” he says, adding, “there may be a sense in which we are less concerned about keeping up with the Joneses – what the neighbours think – as we don’t know them as well.”

I wonder if that’s the case. I think as a nation, we’re still just as preoccupied with keeping up with the Joneses, but these days we’re more disconnected from the natural world, not to mention more materialistic. Today, impressing one’s neighbours is more likely to be achieved through parking a nice car out front. And let’s not forget the enviable boost in house value some off-street parking will guarantee. You’re not going to get any financial return on a bed of marigolds now are you?

The implications of this alarming trend are far-reaching, from loss of biodiversity and increased flooding risks to rising urban temperatures, and the RHS is urging the nation to reverse the trend by launching their Greening Grey Britain campaign.

I hope it works. Life in modern Britain can feel grey enough without added swathes of concrete deadening the landscape.



12 thoughts on “Where once flowers bloomed

  1. I am ashamed of my front garden- cold, shady and facing North, it is a difficult spot. But that will all change this year as thanks to the RHS, I am going to invest some time and thought on it. I am sure there are things I can do and plants to suit it. At least there is no concrete! Now I just need some inspiration….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you’ll find something to brighten your front garden. I know north-facing can be tricky – our back garden is north-facing, but at least the rhubarb seems happy there!


  2. Yes, I have seen a lot of concreting over round where I live. I think I am a bit of an oddity in getting rid of my horrendous and growing things in my front garden!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very thoughtful piece. And a
    different perspective for someone who lives in a rural community—Winthrop—in a sparsely populated state—Maine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Laurie,
      You’re very lucky to live in a rural region where such problems don’t exist! It’s a real problem in British cities, and so sad to see.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂


      1. Lots of land in Maine, so we don’t have to be as mindful. However, that can also bring about its own set of problems. But we do have lots of green and growing things—wild flowers and garden flowers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.