We have been told ad infinitum that ‘nature is healing’, but it is also true that nature is trying to kill you. Viruses are natural, after all. Even in your garden there’s a visible, bullet-time battle to the death as plants smother plants, insects attack and chemical warfare ensues. Suburbia is more interesting than you think. We prefer to focus on the flowers, but thorns lurk below. We can discover more about our world from stepping out the back door than hours spent on our phones, if only we look.
A decade before Darwin published The Origin of Species, Tennyson’s In Memoriam grappled with his attempt to harmonise his scientific and religious world views. In Canto 56 of the poem, he described nature as ‘red in tooth and claw,’ but the tranquil greens of plants – green in thorn and branch – are at war too. The uneasy equilibrium between humans and their environment is witnessed at a domestic level in our gardens and urban spaces.