By HARRY HOWARD
A BBC presenter was criticised on Saturday for claiming British gardening is ‘racist’ because of its ‘fetishisation’ of terms such as ‘heritage’ and ‘native’.
Botanist James Wong, 39, who has presented Countryfile and appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time as a panellist made the controversial remarks on Twitter.
He was responding to another user who had shared an article he wrote last month for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper which questioned why horticulture was not perceived as more political.
Mr Wong wrote in response: ‘Absolutely U.K. gardening culture has racism baked into its DNA.
‘It’s so integral that when you point out it’s existence, people assume you are against gardening, not racism.
‘Epitomised, for example, by the fetishisation (and wild misuse) of words like “heritage” and “native”.’
The presenter also claimed the idea of ‘wildflowers’ being ‘more in keeping with the area’ was ‘historically f*****’ and ‘predicated on often unconscious ideas of what and who does and does not “belong” in the UK.
He added: ‘This is the kind of exhausting s*** you have to go through everyday if you work in U.K. horticulture.
‘Unless of course you internalise these unquestioned (often unconscious) ideas that are predicated in large part on a bedrock xenophobia and racism.’
The presenter was immediately criticised by other Twitter users, with one writing in response, ‘There appears to be no limits to the idiocy of some.
‘I never knew gardening was racist. I can imagine that next up pet cats will be racist.’
Another wrote: ‘I feel really sorry for people who really are victims of racism when I see tweets like this.
‘The way the word is used now to describe any view or opinion people do not agree with is ridiculous.
‘The concept of racism is becoming debased through trivial overuse.’
A third user branded him a ‘crackpot’ while a fourth baffled person said they had read his tweets a ‘few’ times and added, ‘Are we saying that UK gardeners are racist against plants, or the people that plant them?’
As well as his presenting roles, Mr Wong is an ambassador for Kew Gardens and the Royal Horticultural Society.
Mr Wong has ben approached for comment by MailOnline.