I don’t usually write as a hired gun.
On the other hand, I could be persuaded to write articles, even books, on subjects which interest me, if somebody will pay the bills. I won’t do anything if someone is has already done it, or is likely to. It has to be original, or fill a gap.
The Natural Garden Book was commissioned by Gaia Books as a companion to its highly successful Natural House Book in 1991. The rest of this web site doesn’t suggest that I was actually a gardener for many years, but it was so, and I have kept my hand in. The book took me about two years to research and write, with some help from my colleague Jeremy Light and the clever environmental writer Chris Madsen. I was somewhat annoyed by the crass editing that turned it from a highly original work to a standardised coffee-table book the publishers thought would sell better in the USA, but enough survived for it to have UK, US and Australian editions and be translated into Spanish, Japanese and Polish. Although now out of print, it achieved a certain minority cult status and is fondly remembered.
Incidentally, I could do this again, but if I did I would partner with my real partner Jill Fenwick, who is a gardener, plantswoman and garden designer just different enough from me to generate fruitful arguments. Perhaps for example blood-on-the-carpet scenes would alternate with kiss-and-make-up.
In 2007 the technical publishers Palgrave invited Professor Dave Elliott of the Open University to edit a book of papers on sustainable energy, leaving him to commission the various contributions. Knowing I was particularly interested in the demand side of the energy problem, and particularly personal lifestyles, he invited me to contribute a chapter. The result was “Sustainable Lifestyles of the Future”, in Sustainable Energy: Opportunities and Limitations Ed. D. Elliott, Palgrave (2007). This tried to quantify greenhouse gas emissions, and suggested a range of reduction strategies that could be pursued by householders, with household income being a key determinant. It showed that wealthy households proactively investing in low-emitting technologies both on and off-site could achieve similar results to low-income consciously ‘green’ households, but at much greater cost.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales was one of the ‘Millennium Projects’ of the year 2000, and to mark its launch a book of essays was commissioned, The Garden of Wales, Edited by Andrew Sclater, Harper Collins (2000). As a consultant to the NBGW project, and as a member of the Arts and Identity committee, I was invited to contribute a chapter. The NBGW set great store by sustainability, yet was largely unaware of the practical and philosophical minefield this would entail. The essay, “Greening the Garden”,drawing on long experience at CAT and elsewhere, offers warnings and advice.
Other articles have been written on request for (e.g.) BBC Wildlife Magazine, Architectural Design, Ecos, Town and Country Planning, Resurgence, Biocity, The Land, the Geographical Magazine, the Good Book Guide, New Farmer and Grower, Amateur Gardening, Renew, Energy and Environmental Management, etc.