We are living in stressful times: no wonder so many of us have taken refuge in our gardens and in the quiet corners of our potting sheds.
Can there be a more harmless, innocent diversion than gardening? We all know it’s good for body and soul and our mental health.
But the green-fingered ranks of Britain’s gardeners are in for a shock — according to a new book, by pruning our roses or digging the vegetable patches, we are all somehow perpetuating the evils of racism.
Last week Corinne Fowler, Professor of Post-Colonial Literature at the University of Leicester, published a sprawling 316-page work examining the links between the British countryside, racism, slavery and our colonial past.
Among her startling conclusions? Our cherished national pastime, gardening, has its roots in racial injustice.
Should we be surprised? Perhaps not. The book’s title, Green Unpleasant Land, gives us an indication of Professor Fowler’s thoughts on the countryside.
One might expect her writings to be consigned to academic obscurity. But her views on rural Britain are in fact very influential.
For she is at the centre of the ‘culture war’ that has overwhelmed one of Britain’s largest and best-loved charities, the National Trust.