Unwind in the garden of the natural world SEARCH NEWS

Viv Burton surrounded by cycads in Mexico

For Viv Burton, the idea of relaxing in her own garden is an oxymoron, but Great Garden Give has given her a new perspective.

My garden is a wonderful array of colourful chaos: weeds and long grass and lettuces going to seed, overblown roses and thistles among the artichokes.

I have a vision of a wonderfully tended potager of vegetables and herbs separated from herbaceous borders. The concept is there but the reality is far removed.

Working at World Land Trust (WLT) doesn’t give me much time in the garden and I share my spare time with walking a dog and feeding chickens, alpacas and a llama too.

In theory, and other people tell me, one’s garden is a place away from the world to relax and enjoy. So I should be watching the swallows and house martins overhead, identifying all the different bees and insects and soaking up the smell of the roses and honeysuckle.

But generally speaking I can’t do that. On the occasional summer evening when lovely weather and free time coincide, I’m thinking I should be mowing the grass or weeding the vegetables rather than sitting on a bench sipping a glass of wine.

I find I can relax much more when I’m in the countryside and nature is doing it all for me.

I walk the dog along country lanes and I love the violets and primroses in the spring, foxgloves and agrimony in the summer, blackberries and crab apples in autumn, and frosty trees and spiders’ webs in the winter.

When I’ve been lucky enough to visit WLT reserves that our donors have helped create I have been overwhelmed by nature’s own gardening in the tropical forests of Ecuador, Belize and Costa Rica.

Moss, orchids and ferns have found their home and put on a breathtaking display without the human hand, and there is no wonder Victorians dreamed of recreating these wonders at home in Europe.

On my only visit to Mexico, Roberto Pedraza took us to see an amazing diversity of ecosystems all in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve where he works.

Oak trees festooned with orchids, fallen trees covered in liverworts and tiny green frogs, and the cycads, also known as ‘living fossils’ because they have remained unchanged for millions of years, they were all staggering. They were there and I didn’t have to lift a finger.

Back home I’ve measured my garden in strides and I’ve made a donation to buy a piece of rainforest the same size. I’m very happy in rural Suffolk but happier still to know that those rainforests that I’ve spent decades trying to save, are surviving against the odds. For me Great Garden Give has enabled me to save a piece of forest and look with fresh eyes at my garden. I may even be able to sit in it and enjoy a glass of wine now.

Viv Burton is WLT’s Head of Communications

Great Garden Give logo

More information

Great Garden Give is WLT’s summer fundraising campaign and the idea behind it is simple. It involves making a donation to save an area of threatened habitat that’s the same size as your garden.

You can measure your garden in metres or strides – even just an estimate will do. At just 2.5p per square metre, most people in the UK can afford to become a Great Garden Giver.

Check out our online calculator to help you work out the donation you’d need to make to save an area of tropical forest that’s the same size as your garden.

Great Garden Give page with calculator »
Great Garden Give gallery »
Great Garden Give competition »