The fashion goddess that is Vivienne Westwood, or Viv as I like to call her, has recently unveiled her new Manifesto. Titled ‘Do It Your Self’ Viv suggests that fashion should be less about the recent move towards “throw away” philosophies, where people buy cheap items and throw them away after a short period of time, and more about recycling, quality and utilising key pieces. Within this campaign Viv also insists that recycling and sustainability should be included wherever possible. The quality or key item should remain within the collection and reused within different settings throughout different times and fashions. Alongside this, and something that is to be expected of the high Dame, is the need for individuality and reflection of self. The new Spring/Summer ’09 manifesto can be found here.
“What has this got to do with gardening?” I hear you ask. Well, quite a lot actually. The key messages that Viv puts forward can be interpreted and applied directly to gardening. Other issues such as recycling, sustainability, quality, staying power and versatility, which are all included in her latest manifesto, all impact on garden design and planting. These are topical issues within society and horticulture and as such, these should bear heavily on our choices and decisions.
What can we do in the garden that incorporates Viv’s philosophy?
Firstly, we look at the use of key pieces and quality items. This can relate to good quality specimen plants; be it large or small, herbaceous or woody, or hard landscaping be it a patio, sculpture, etc. A key piece would need staying power in that it is there for all seasons; hence it’s recurrent nature and versatility when used in new schemes or changing garden fashions. A good example of a key piece would be a large evergreen shrub/tree which would add structure and permanence in the garden or a focal point such as a piece of garden art.
Secondly, as a garden comprises more than one element, it will need additional planting or landscaping. This is where recycling can come in very handy. When applying this to planting, propagation is one of the easiest and cost effective ways of increasing stock, and lets face it its an incredibly sustainable way of maintaining a plant filled garden. Utilising opportunities to acquire free plants and landscaping materials, such as plant swaps, Freecycle, or friends and family, will also enable you to put more resources towards key pieces.
Finally, the most important component of the garden should be you. A garden should reflect your personality, style, and tastes. Afterall, if we all followed fashion and the media as directed wouldn’t it all get a bit boring?
I say we take influence from the Queen of fashion and for that matter any influences that promote individuality, sustainability and longevity. We have so many influences and yet so few that aren’t solely focussed on commercialism.
What are your views on this interpretation? And what influences you in the garden?