Sui Searle

Sui Searle (she/her) is a gardener, writer and printmaker. She has worked in botanic, public, private and community gardens as well as having spent a short period writing for gardening magazines. She is the founder of @decolonisethegarden which focuses on bringing a decolonial lens and anti-racism perspective to horticulture and is editor of the online gardening newsletter, Radicle.

Describe the nature around you at the moment

I am hunched over my laptop, neck and shoulders feeling tight, eyes tired. My dog is curled up next to me, gently snoring. The sunlight is coming and going from behind fast-moving clouds. A neighbour is using a noisy, whirring, power tool outside. The wind is whipping up in the garden and the leaves on the trees are beginning to transform into their gold, red and orange autumnal colours.

How does nature inform your practice?

By seeking a closer and more intimate connection with the natural world around me and the living environment is what brought me to gardening in the first place. Natural rhythms, the seasons, cycles of growth and decay, guide the gardening calendar all the time, so nature is an inextricable, intimate and ever-present part of gardening practice.

I find the main thing that tends to pull us away from listening to what nature tells and teaches us are demands and pressures of money, time and resources - a result of the capitalist, profit-driven world we find ourselves having to garden/survive in.

What lessons have the natural world taught you about the impact of colonisation?

Phew, this is a big question! I encourage readers to go take a look at the @decolonisethegarden Instagram account and the online Radicle newsletter, which I run. The lessons the natural world has taught me have been many and are ongoing.

Name a film, podcast or documentary that blew your mind?

Kamea Chayne’s Green Dreamer podcast ( I have learnt so much, been inspired and had my mind opened by so many interesting people who have featured on there.

Name a place where you feel most at ease?

I love places with wide open landscapes, big skies and huge horizons. I love being near the sea and being able to see the sun set and the moon rise. All my favourite places mostly have these features in common and give me such a sense of peace, beauty, expansiveness and perspective.

How can we understand ourselves as part of nature?

That we have the word “nature” at all is so telling. As though nature is something separate and outside of ourselves - something to be dominated and controlled. Some Indigenous languages do not even have a word for “nature”. The idea of nature as being outside of humans and humans as being superior to nature is a story that does not serve us. We are not individual bodies with hard borders. Our bodies are porous and leaky. We interact with our environment constantly. We breathe in oxygen created by plants. We depend on other organisms for our very survival. We need other beings to truly thrive.

What inspires you every day?

The wise mother trees, the sun, my kin - all around - both near and far.

What kind of ancestor would you like to be?

Layla F Saad wrote that a good ancestor is someone who is focused on their area of impact (in anti-oppression work) - focussing on what they can and will do, while never abandoning the understanding that all of it is interconnected. I hope that I am able to do this. I’d like to be an ancestor that cared, who wasn’t afraid to learn and grow and who tried to make a positive difference for the Earth and for people where I could.

What do you grow at home? Or if you don’t grow anything, what would you love to learn to grow? (question from #TheNatureKind interview with Love Ssega)

I’m fortunate to care for a garden in which many things grow - from big old trees to a patch of grass meadow full of wildflowers such as knapweed, wild sorrel, bird's-foot-trefoil and wild orchids. Not to mention all the wildlife that lives there too. In terms of plants that I have chosen to cultivate, I’ve planted a mix of ornamental and edible. I particularly like plants that are edible/medicinal and/or wildlife/pollinator friendly. I have recently been making an effort to grow more perennial edibles.

What question would you like to ask the next person on #TNK?

How are you feeling in your body right now?

And could you suggest someone else or other organisations you admire that we could approach for #TheNatureKind ?

Sophie Strand @cosmogyny / Olivia Laing @olivialanguage / @botanicallyjayy / Stephanie Li @stephanie.tree

You can find out more about Sui’s work on Instagram or subscribe to the Radicle newsletter

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