University professor warns that horticulture could go extinct

James Hitchmough, professor at the University of Sheffield, has warned that horticulture is in danger of going extinct if there is too much native planting in public spaces.

“If from now on every decision says you can only use native plants then there will be nothing but native plants in public landscapes which will be a disaster,” he said.

“There is 13,000 square kilometres of gardens in the UK, more than all the official nature reserves put together. Gardens are our nature reserves.”

Mr Hitchmough voiced his concerns to RHS presidents, and added that “an agenda for public native planting was “redefining the public landscape away from horticultural design to something dominated by native species”.

“The assumption is that those spaces are better for wildlife,” he said. “But that is not always the case.”