The Third Landscape ~ urban rivers

Jo flagged up Gilles Clement, the French gardener / botanist / ecologist and his idea of a “third landscape”. In landscape management, this is a compromise between the engineered and the entirely wild. Thinking about planting or replanting gardens and urban areas, Clement says that human, animal and weather flows have produced a state where indigenous plants can no longer establish themselves, and it is wrong-headed to try to retrieve the biosphere of two or three hundred years ago. Responsible, proactive environmental management requires us to acknowledge this “planetary mixing”.

The rivers and also the swales seemed to be cases in point: some reintroduced ‘native species’ are thriving, but others had failed. We found lots of garden plants along the Denburn where they had been carried by birds or water, or by tipping garden waste. Giving up the notion of what is “indigenous” is of course a significant shift in thinking – it is to accept that there is ‘no going back’.


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