You’ve heard of the real estate bubble, and talk of other bubbles as well, but we gardeners have our own forms of the dreaded “bubble”. Remember history’s “Tulipomania”? Yep, everyone had to have tulips, the latest and rarest one, and a bubble was born to illustrate all other bubbles. Wherever the tale of tulips are told, the story of tulipomania is trotted out: the beautiful tulip is showcased in Europe, the rich took notice and got involved (any patterns here ? eh?), and craziness ensued. Then, it all fell down. Humpty Dumpty was sitting on a garden wall in those times, I’m sure.
Anyway, I notice that people talk about the ups and downs of gardening popularity. They usually have jobs that involve some form of the landscape industry, so I understand their concern… While for the rest of us, we don’t get interested until it starts shutting down some of our favorite publications or diminishing our plant choices – or hitting our pocketbooks with a particularly cruel and unusual punishment. So I thought of noting something I found in my internet meanderings.
Back in the year 2000 or so was the article, “Modernism spells trouble in the Garden of Eden” , where they say this little gem of garden wisdom:
“Gardeners are a conservative lot,” says one[garden editor]. “You can’t pretend to them that gardening is like interior decoration, a matter of instant results.”
So true, that.
The article points to the instant garden “makeover” mentality of garden TV at that time as the contributing fault. It occurred to me that we had digested that thinking and made it our own over the past decade or so. It may have just been that this particular magazine, New Eden, was a little ahead of its time (or perhaps marketed poorly?). Whatever the cause at the time, I think we (culturally and collectively speaking) grew a whole crop of gardeners that loved instantaneous results.
Easy Gardening gardeners, with dreams of “no maintenance” yards -“younger, trendier”. This, then is the “gardening bubble”. The gardeners described as “Real gardeners” ™, are these: “The experienced gardener sees through them by the way they hold a spade and the language they use”. I would concur.
The conclusion was:”The key question has been whether the new instant-result gardening has a market, or whether it will be the traditionalists who triumph. So far, the traditionalists have it.”
In the short term that was wrong. I think the concerns of those who worry that gardening is losing its appeal to the masses and lost sales of gardening literature are due to the fact that the “new trendier” type of gardening temporarily won out, in spite of the fact that gardeners are conservative. The larger size plants at greater costs were ubiquitous, Yards were regularly “made over” at whim, a new wardrobe for your home that mirrored the glossy pages, all the while assuring us that it was as easy as pie. And it was… for a season. But because gardening is very much a set of skills acquired over a long time (a lifetime I might say), the longterm result is that the prophetic declaration that traditionalists will triumph now rings with a bit of truth.
Garden magazine publishers were hearing the death knoll even then,”The competition is not about to get any easier.” “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls…”
So where do gardeners go from here? I think because we are going into a tight economic situation that might well demand lifestyle changes, we are going to want things that hone and improve our skills and make economic sense. Everyone loves “organic” but do they know the fine tuned balance that produces good food and “sustainability”? As a culture we jump on bandwagons, but our times demand something with more substance and rooted more deeply into the ground of our nation and tradition. And in this is the Gardener, someone for all seasons.
I’m glad to be in your number.
Garden businesses that cater to the “Real gardeners” ™, and gardeners who propagate real love and learning for the craft will create something sustainable that contributes to the future generation.
I think this is the direction we should go.
Tags: garden trends,