About halfway through a fascinating article about a botanic garden on the Isle of Wight  I’d never heard of –  I’ve never heard of any gardens on the Isle of Wight – I wondered idly if the piece would ever end. I kept scrolling and scrolling with continued interest as I absorbed all the conflicts and personalities surrounding Ventnor Botanic Garden, which was taken over by American businessman John Curtis in 2012.

Turns out this piece, Mark O’Connell’s Battle of the botanic garden: the horticulture war roiling the Isle of Wight, was one of the Guardian’s “long reads,” at 6,000-plus words. Which is not really all that long, but still, refreshingly comprehensive. 

Ventnor under Curtis is being transformed into a self-perpetuating ecosystem, where the exotic plants that thrive in its warmer-than-usual microclimate are allowed to seed themselves about, without much intervention from the gardeners who work there. The plants include species native to South American, Australian and African locations, which stay alive thanks to their protected location, said to be 5 degrees Centigrade warmer than the British average.

There’s no question that all the plants I saw in the article – photographed outside in December – would have to be under glass in Buffalo.

Anyway, the whole thing is highly controversial and the story is populated with a fun assortment of eccentrics. Read it for yourself. The Guardian is still free, but, after enjoying this and many, many other Guardian stories, I finally caved in to the little request they always have at the end and subscribed. 

The writer’s attitude was interesting. He listened to everyone and faithfully included lengthy quotes, but you could tell that he thought the place was – overall – pretty cool. He took note of visitors, mainly seniors, who make repeated trips to the place, loving it despite the lack of labels, uncollected plant debris and generally less-than-kempt appearance. 

You’ll  recall that the Beatles note the Isle of Wight as a good place to check out when you’re 64.

Professional gardeners and others with advanced horticultural expertise seem to be the main complainers about the Ventnor’s increasingly wild appearance.

I’m not sure. I would probably want a few labels or some sort of signage if the plants are that exotic. You can cover a lot of plants with just one sign.

But I’ve always declined to use labels in my own garden. I don’t care how well they’re designed; I just don’t like them. 

And I allow some reseeding, especially with eupatorium (boneset) which provides fall flowers easily. Otherwise, though, I pick up litter, including leaves, for the city compost truck. It just looks crappy and tends to bury early bulbs and emerging perennials otherwise. But we’ve been through all that.

My main point? Read the article. You’ll enjoy it, regardless of whether you have heard of Ventnor or ever intend to visit it.