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Cultivating Defiant Compassion

Benjamin Vogt's book "A New Garden Ethic' is a fascinating insight into why we have been so slow to respond to the environmental threat of climate change and mass extinction.

Benjamin Vogt explains that climate change for most of us creates unbearable anxiety and despair for humankind, leaving us in a state of paralysis. The greater the scale of the problem, the more the threat seems distant and abstract and as a result, we experience a type of 'pyschological numbing' otherwise known as 'compassion fade'.


This struck a chord with me when creating the concept for my 'Extinction' Show Garden. I figured that to break our 'compassion fade', I must shock the public's emotions to the core, so that they can feel a deep sense of grief. Grief comes from love, the love of something lost. And so I thought, "What could evoke a more powerful sense of grief than witnessing our own species' demise in the form of a plane crash?" This became the essence of my 'shock and awe' design concept.


So, instead of sidelining the uncomfortable negative feelings that climate change and habitat loss evoke. This garden hopes to make people feel grief, loss, anger and humility. We must accept these emotions, if we are to shatter this paralysis and be inspired to take action to avoid a 6th Mass Extinction and save our own existence on Planet Earth.


I look forward to welcoming you to the RHS Global Impact Garden: Extinction at RHS Hampton Court Palace Festival 5-11 July 2021.


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