Many people dream of a wilderness experience, of ‘getting away from it all’ to somewhere with pristine sand unmarked by the tracks of human shoes, or to deep in a forest where the birds aren’t over-bold or malnourished on a diet of bread given by doting but ill advised humans and animals can be seen wild and unafraid of the hunter. When I look at a car yard: acres of gleaming metal in asphalt, or an industrial park: concrete buildings and belching chimneys, I long for rugged hills of green. But the conundrum is that the more people seek the wilderness, the less wild it becomes. The more each person wants to be the only one in a pristine valley, the less pristine valleys there are to choose from. So there’s a call of the wild we occasionally heed, but many of us prefer to live in cities or towns with manicured gardens for the bulk of our time.
A number of post-apocalyptic dramas show nature taking over after a nuclear holocaust or some other disaster has decimated the human population and their built structures. Vines entangle ruined walks and plantlike spreads with abandon. And the people are often trying to create a ‘new Eden’. At the end of the series of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, after societal devastation and war almost to the point of extinction, the survivors find a planet and deliberately decide not to stay together and build cities, but to spread across the planet they find and begin an agrarian life on the pristine uninhabited planet. I don’t remember much about the plot, but The Triffids haunts me from childhood, huge hostile plants threatening humanity. I seem to remember the X-Files had an episode with a hostile or toxic plant too. In an age of climate change and global warming, the theme of nature fighting back endures. When I travelled to South Korea and entered the DMZ (demilitarised zone) I remember reading that a feature of the zone was it was the one place where a number of plant and animal species still survived, following the decimation by war and then development, of the rest of the country. When I see a crack and a rise in the pavement where a tree root is exerting pressure I imagine nature is fighting back and biding it’s time before the plant revolution.