The 'Attenborough effect' sees traditional plants make a comeback in British gardens

UK gardeners show favour to traditional flowering plants over non-native exotics once again – and this can only benefit our wildlife

Wyevale Garden Centres hydrangeas
(Image credit: Wyevale Garden Centres)

The 'Attenborough effect' is seeping into all corners of our lives, it seems. The latest, and one of the most impactful ways for improving the chances of native wildlife, perhaps, is a resurgence of the popularity of native plant species we are choosing for our gardens. 

Yes, British gardeners are once again turning towards traditional plants that have been considered old-fashioned compared to exotic and non-native species. This according to the 2019 Garden Trends Report, which observes that traditional plants such as hydrangeas, heather, primroses, and lavender are experiencing a resurgence in popularity in British gardens. 

Anyone with an eye on the country's mood might like to argue that this may be a reaction against the current climate of political instability, with people wishing to recreate home and garden environments that remind them of less complicated times. Much more likely is that it's down to the huge increase in awareness about climate change and the decline of British wildlife thanks to the efforts, largely, of David Attenborough TV appeals and (approve of them or not) Extinction Rebellion. 

It's thought that these much publicised outcries may be spurring on the revival of traditional planting schemes that support native wildlife and pollinators – and, with the environment the driving force, it's hoped that this return to native plants is far from a passing fad.  

'Plants have the ability to connect us with our past and transcend the generations; be it recreating plant displays from our childhoods or nurturing the plants we have inherited from the gardens of friends and family,' comments Julian Palphramand, plant buyer for Wyevale Garden Centres. 'Traditional plants come with an easy-care appeal and often have the ability to withstand the UK’s unpredictable weather.'

With a whole new generation of gardeners discovering that native plants that have been planted in British gardens for generations are just that little bit better suited to our (albeit changing) climate, it's hoped that it's a trend that's here to stay. 

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.