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I read Kathy Purdy’s post on How New Media is Impacting the Future of Gardening, and found it interesting how she looked at Scott’s co. efforts to grow gardening interest in the younger generation. They have their work cut out for them considering that homeownership is taking such a hit, and the fact that electronic media entertainment and real time gardening are mutually exclusive. I can garden or be on the computer- I can’t do both at the same time.
The true love of gardening comes from intimacy with the outdoors in some way, while sometimes limited to indoor gardening, the gardener developed their love of growing things from the way plantlife captured their heart. I know that exposure to gardens and the experience of gardening can elicit that love, but I don’t know quite what it is that causes it to take root in one person and not another.
Aside from all that is the fact that gardening is something of a leisure activity. Growing vegetables might be part of economic necessity for some few, but of those… do they come to love a garden like those who create one as an interest rather than a need? I don’t know the answer to that.
I remember the burgeoning of interest in gardens during the seventies… there was a surge of experimental curiosity in communes, homesteading, and indoor plants at that time. Gardening was a natural result of that interest, while it matured into something of a refined interest for yuppiedom: cutting gardens for indoor arrangements, landscapes to die for, the art of making a garden. Of them came the plethora of “no maintenance” garden articles to promise them more production for less work, a favored yuppie value. But the waning interest as media rooms became far more attractive to many than outdoor rooms meant a slowdown for the entire industry, even as home ownership was booming. This time simply illustrated the fact that pastimes go through fads with a fluctuating circle of dilettantes around the central core of impassioned devotees.
If one wants to know how to increase this impassioned core, I think that gardeners doing what they love to do is the grassroots of it: sharing their enthusiasm, showcasing their accomplishments, nurturing generously in the lives of others. How many of us first caught sight and scent of that love in our grandparents gardens, or those of our mothers? Many of us cherish fond memories of kind gardening acquaintances who gave us slips of favorite plants and careful instructions on how to successfully grow them, these are the things that build the love of gardening. And then there is the garden itself.
I think if there is anything a business or interest group could do to encourage gardening on a larger scale it is to provide gardened spaces for the public. Supporting public gardens and arboretums, making them accessible, creating more… this is how garden love spreads: through the sight, sounds and scents of a garden experienced firsthand. The dissemination of ideas, education in techniques and plant information, examples that make the visitor say “I want to have that in my home!”
The neighbor’s garden, glimpsed through a fence, or passed by each day- give pleasure and inspiration to the neighborhood, while the innovation and expression of using plants in the landscape inspires people is positively catching. And garden bloggers do their part in sharing successful gardening tips, anecdotes of how they met climate and soil challenges, notations on what they have enjoyed as success and suffered as failure, this has a part in the almost giddy hook of having a hand in the miracle of nature: growing something from seemingly nothing, seeing the first bloom, tasting the first real tomato, sitting in the shade of the once little tree. Maybe the love of gardening in others is something else that gardeners are adept at growing.
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