I decided to write this page to help with transparency and trust in my writing and campaigning.
What I stand for
- Environment and nature: we are part of nature, nature is part of us. With the intellectual abilities we have as humans, it is our responsibility to protect all life on earth in an equal way. Having read hundreds of research studies and accounts from scientists from many different fields, I have seen that we have gone past many breaking points both environmentally and with the extinction of habitats and species. We have to act now, we have to act fast and we have to act effectively around the globe, with the UK, having benefited from its past privilege, helping lead the way.
- Equality: everyone around the world should be treated equally, with the same equal opportunities. In some cases that may mean going an extra step to redress inequalities from institutional and societal constructs that give some people privilege and restricts others.
- Organic and sustainable gardening: I began gardening fully organically without any pesticides and chemical fertilisers as soon as I understood them properly, for over five years now. I was almost fully organic long before that, hardly using any chemicals anyway as they were pretty pointless, e.g. I always used organic slug pellets and never metaldehyde but have used neither for over five years now. I have been growing in peat free compost for over 10 years, and while it’s currently near impossible to buy all plants peat free in the UK yet, a bigger range is coming to market and I’m increasingly trying to buy only peat free grown plants (see my list of sustainable plant nurseries I buy from). I’ve always believed it’s important to still buy from and support independent nurseries trying to switch to peat free compost, though I wouldn’t buy from any who aren’t. I aim to be as sustainable as I possibly can and with every year make improved efforts to make our own garden sustainable, reducing plastic used, collecting rainwater, making our own compost, trying to only buy plants grown in peat free and without chemicals (though this can be hard or unclear). I remain conflicted about the use of weed killers in the wild – I don’t use them but in some cases, as with Reynoutria japonica, I can’t see any other way of controlling it when the plant is destroying a fragile ecosystem, but I will leave this up to the scientists.
- Politics: I do not support any one single party, instead I focus only on issues, such as environment, wildlife, equality, poverty, renewable energies, equal access health systems etc. I believe the UK’s party divisions that govern our lives to be neolithic, turning us into blinkered football team supporters, and the way parliament sessions are run are embarrassing, if the rest of us behaved at work as many of our politicians do in the House of Commons we would be fired immediately, if our children behaved like that at school, they would be expelled. I would like a total reform of the way our political system works that does away with divisive parties and focusses again on real issues.
- Capitalism: I’m not against capitalism but I am against uncontrolled capitalism, no one in the world needs to be a billionaire, essential services should not harm the natural world. Essential services to live, such as energy, water, health care, internet, internet search and public transport would ideally be nationalised but failing that should at least only reward employees and investors in a fair and restricted way that has guaranteed caps on the wealth they can generate as well as fair minimum salaries. As well as guaranteed investments into infrastructure and reducing cost for all. Essential services should, in the near future become sustainable, such as through renewable energies and recyclable components.
- Trophy hunting in conservation: I would like to see a world without conservation reliant on income from trophy hunting, where wildlife is protected and local communities are in complete control of their land’s destiny, including within the UK itself (the UK has for a long time been against any kind of trophy hunting, for instance 80% of British people want fox hunting to remain illegal in the UK according to YouGov). I understand suitable income and protections must be in place to protect habitat and support communities where trophy hunting no longer happens. Because there are two possible future models of conservation, one with trophy hunting and one without, and it’s easy to mislead people into supporting pro-trophy hunting models, it’s vital all parties involved in the debate are transparent with which they want long term. I will only support models that don’t include trophy hunting or at least have credible and timely public plans to move away from it and be held accountable.
My main day-to-day job is designing other people’s gardens (about 70% of my time through the year) and writing about gardening and nature (about 30% of my time through the year).
- Garden design:
- I run a small company to do this of which I am the sole employee at the moment, though I hire contract support for accounting (employed and paid for by my business) and then work with landscape contractors, horticulturists, various nurseries and product sellers to install and plant the garden (employed and paid for by my clients).
- I receive no incentive from any of these suppliers. A choice I made at the start of opening my business in 2018 to run an honest and transparent business for my clients. It also means I am not wedded to any one supplier and can instead work with the best for each different need.
- Newspapers and magazines: I am paid by newspaper and magazines for writing articles for them, almost always by the number of words, which is standard for writing, at varying amounts per publication based on their own rules. I have a personal rule to write for all and any publication that wishes me to write for them because I want my advice and views to reach the widest possible audience, but they cannot alter the sentiment of what I write without my approval. Editing to improve grammar is of course standard, fine and for me, necessary! I have been asked over the years to write for The Guardian, The Telegraph, Gardener’s World, The RHS and Gardens Illustrated, who I have written the most for to date (they originally asked me to write for them, I didn’t approach them, though I have later suggested topics). I have also been asked to write for The English Garden, Rakes Progress, The Metro, iNews and possibly others I’ve forgotten but will add if I remember them!
- Books: I have written three gardening books to date and for each of those I was given an advance payment in stages as I wrote them. The first third after the proposal is signed before writing the main text, the second on completion of the text, and the final third on publication. Once the advance is paid off through royalties I then receive ‘additional royalties’, a small percentage of each sale. Books are, for me anyway, a labour of love, they don’t give me the same salary as design work – if I were interested in money, I would only work on design and not write books. In all three books I provided a large number of the photos included within my advance payment.
- Newsletter: I run a paid-for monthly newsletter called the Wild Way which is about gardening and nature. At the moment all money from this goes toward covering the costs of running the newsletter itself, my website and a small fraction of the time of creating content for both. If it ever becomes so popular that it goes beyond covering the cost of these things, I will update this page to explain that it has, and is becoming part of my full time job. I do hope that one day this is the case but I am nowhere near that right now.
- Website: my website is free to use for everyone and I receive no money from any person or company for it, I don’t run advertising or affiliate links on it. I do sell my own books, newsletter and some seed packets on it through the shop.
- Personal aims: I have a rule that everything in gardening I write about is based on either my own first-hand experiences or trusted research and data, or usually a mix of both. Very occasionally I might talk about something I don’t have experience of, such as something I am planning to do, but I will make this clear.
- Talks, presentations and training
- I do very few talks and presentations, but where I do I charge a fee based on the same day-rate I use for design. This includes the time taken to create or plan the talk/presentation and the time giving it. I don’t do very many talks because I find them very stressful and because I have very limited time alongside my main full-time job of design and writing.
- Investments and interests in other companies
- I don’t have any! I am a strong protector of my independence of voice.
- Direct payments: I have no investment or interest in any other company, I do not take or receive money from any company that influences my writing.
- Charities: I give money from my business to a number of charities whenever I can, listed on my charities page, these are normal donations through their sites and are in no way any kind of partnership or anything more than a donation. I give to a number of humanitarian charities in addition to these out of my own money with nothing to do with my writing or design business. I will support charity campaigns on social media wherever I can to help raise awareness.
- Gifts and reviews: I run a product reviews section on my website, sometimes the product is given to me, sometimes I review what I have bought myself. I make it clear on the page which. Either way I make no promise to companies that my review will be positive and I always write what I think. Usually I only accept products that fit my values and come recommended by others anyway, so I will never accept anything that goes against my organic principles or that I know to be rubbish, for instance. I don’t have time to review everything except what I use myself day-to-day and so it’s always best to reference my opinion with other independent organisations with time to conduct large-scale comparison trials such as Which?, the RHS and trusted educational bodies.