Why aren’t there more young(er) gardeners?

– Posted in: Meditations, Miscellaneous
25 comments

Not too long ago I was ruminating on the possible reasons why more older gardeners aren’t blogging. Besides all the reasons I mentioned in that post, there was also a more personal reason for thinking about it. Let’s face it, this is my future we’re looking at. Already my vision is worse than it used to be, I get aches from typing too long, and neither my flexibility nor my posture has improved from the time I spend in front of a computer monitor. Sure, I thrive on the technology now, but when I’m a really “old dog”, will I still be learning new tricks? Or will it seem like too much bother? And that’s looking at the blogging end of things. We all know gardening isn’t going to get any easier.

But it’s not all about me. Books like Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, as well as the fact that my old childhood haunts are developments now, make me wonder if children today have enough exposure to the natural world to even want to garden. And reports that school children don’t know where carrots or boneless, skinless chicken breast really come from only confirm my worst fears. It’s enough to make you reminisce about the good ‘ol days.

A Gardener is a Gardener is a Gardener?

Outside of my own progeny, I don’t know many people in the twenty-to-thirty year range. But I guess I always assumed that, like my own kids, some enjoy gardening and some don’t. And, taking a page from my own life, I assumed more of them would start gardening as they got a little older. After all, a gardener is a gardener is a gardener.

Well, yes and no. I’m sure I’d find plenty to talk about with a gardener of any age, but there’s no denying that the times and circumstances you grow up in affect your attitudes toward so many things, some more easily discerned than others. Everyone can understand why someone who grew up in the Depression is more frugal than their present circumstances require, but I never could understand why my grandparents thought the Beatles’ songs were “just a lot of noise.”

I’d be the first one to admit I’m out of it, so when I was at the Garden Writers symposium I decided to attend “Reconnecting the Disconnect,” a session purportedly about inspiring Generations X and Y “back to the world of dirt.” The whole idea kind of irked me, though. It sounded a bit like “How can we get these kids to eat their vegetables?” They’d start gardening when they were good and ready. After all, a gardener is a gardener is a gardener.

Are there differences?

Yes, I just don’t want to believe there’s any difference between a 25-year-old gardener and 50-year-old gardener, even though when I was 25, 50-year-olds may as well have been from another planet. The man presenting this session owned a pretty successful independent nursery, and the session was really about understanding the demographic so you can sell to it. I mean, them. I look at my notes from that session, and I see a bunch of disjointed phrases that don’t make a coherent whole. Some of what he described as “Gen Y” I thought applied to anyone involved with an online community: “always connected,” “peer to peer network,” “if they don’t like something, they tell the world,” “value transparency and honesty.” A lot of those terms could describe a garden blogger of any age. We want to see real gardens, not some space tricked out for a garden glossy. We tell each other what works and what doesn’t, not just on our blogs but on websites such as Garden Watchdog.

Other characteristics he pointed out didn’t seem specific to Gen Y as much as characteristic of any younger generation. “Hard to reach, cynical, independent,” “absorb information quickly,” “wanting to change the world”–doesn’t the older generation always characterize the younger generation that way? And some of it seemed contradictory. How could this upcoming generation be both independent and eager to connect with brands? It’s because groups of people are not as monolithic as we’d like them to be, and individuals aren’t as consistent as we’d like to think we are. Very inconvenient when you’re a marketer.

The one example that made an impression on me was an anecdote the presenter related from his own experience. They were selling a lot more plants when they were artfully arranged and potted together in containers, than when they were individual plants, even though the cost of the arranged container was quite a bit more than the cost of the individual containers. He further pointed out that a young person would be more likely to throw the whole thing out when it stopped looking good. When I pondered this, I realized ever since the Depression, each generation has been better off than the previous one: This younger generation is used to replacing everything with something newer or better every few years. Do they treat plants like they treat their gadgets? But gardeners wouldn’t do that! But that’s the point. We’re not talking about gardeners. We’re talking about getting non-gardeners more interested in plants, somehow, some way. By the end of the program, I didn’t feel like I understood the upcoming generation any better, and I wasn’t sure the presenter did, either.

So I went to someone who should know. I had struck up a conversation with a marketing rep earlier in the symposium, an under-thirty woman eager to talk about plants and blogs. I strolled over to her seat and asked her if it had been an accurate presentation. She said to me, “You know when he showed the picture of his daughter’s boyfriend, and everyone laughed? I didn’t get what was so funny. He looked normal to me.” That got me to thinking. The young man in question had been slouched in front of a computer, an iPod connected to his ears, a cellphone (I think) strapped to his upper arm, a Blackberry (or similar) close by his keyboard. The presenter had made some remark like “And this is the guy my daughter wants to marry.” And yes, I had chuckled.

Why was it funny to me and not to her? Because I tapped into the unease of one’s children marrying someone–uh, that you wouldn’t pick for them. But was it the gadgets, or the slouch and general unkempt appearance that made me feel that way? If the guy had been sitting up straight, wearing a business suit, with the same gadgets, would he still have looked like a poor marriage choice to me? Probably not. But my brief conversation with the young marketing rep finally got it through my head that there were differences in the generations that even a love of gardening couldn’t obscure.

Are the differences important?

Not that there’s anything wrong with differences. But you have to see clearly what they are before you can determine if they really affect the outcome you’re concerned about. And I have to wonder if what really affects whether younger people garden is how much contact they had with plants as chlildren, either through a relative who gardened or through abundant time spent in wild spaces. You can’t miss something you’ve never known, and if even if you feel something’s not quite right about your life, how could you pin it down to a lack of gardening if you’ve never gardened? If every generation is less tied to the land than the generation before it, is that a problem? I mean, is that a problem for society as a whole? It offends our sensibilities as gardeners, but is there something inherently harmful in relegating the raising of our food to “experts,” just like we pay car mechanics to repair our cars and software engineers to create our computer programs?

I’ve been reading the posts that have been discussing the dearth of younger gardeners (see below), and while various reasons are offered, the question we’re really struggling with is not “Why aren’t there more young gardeners” but why does it matter. What we’re all wondering is what this means for our society as a whole, this shift away from contact with the natural world. For I have to agree with Bill that the statistics are misleading. When you count every homeowner that mows their lawn as a gardener, and every lawn care service as a green industry, yes, indeedy, gardening is big business. Those of us who register with blog directories or vote for blog awards know better. Gardening as we know it is a fringe interest. It rarely gets its own category. Even on Amazon it’s a subcategory of Home and Garden.

I think this is an unhealthy state of affairs. But I’m a gardener, so I’m prejudiced. But maybe I’m also right. Once those in their twenties get married, buy their house and in general get over the newness of being an adult, will more of them turn to gardening? Or is gardening only going to become increasingly the province of the experts and the eccentrics? What do you think?

Others in the Conversation

I’ve been thinking out loud here, trying to get my bearings following a conversation that’s been hopping from one blog to another. Below are the posts that I’ve found that have been pursuing this line of thought. If you know of others, please bring them to my attention.

Me… In the media… People… Blogging… Gardening… Hannah at This Garden is Illegal
Oops? Clarification… Katie at GardenPunks
Younger Gardeners-Older Gardeners Mr. Brown Thumb at Mr. Brown Thumb
Younger Garden Bloggers, Where Are You? Colleen at In the Garden Online
Garden Bloggers: Old & Young Sarah at A Gardener’s Gazette

Tangentially Related

These posts speak to other issues that have been raised in the course of this discussion.

What Makes a Gardener?
Carol at May Dreams Gardens ponders what makes a gardener realize he or she is a gardener
Clueless New Yorkers Again Reporting On Stuff They Don’t Understand Michele points out that the best way to eat local is to grow local. Who do we expect to grow our food?

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Lexi of Creative Energies January 22, 2008, 5:48 pm

Just discovered this post, really tardy huh?

Anyway, I don’t see a lot of mention of possible changes that will affect how people of all ages view gardening, particularly the increasingly detrimental effects of our overly processed food supply grown on lands depleted of nutrients.

The health issues are enormous and are only just becoming more known. The groundswell of growing and or buying locally grown food is going to become more important as the consequences of how we process our food in the US becomes more evident.

Just my two cents worth…

Lexi

Lori December 24, 2007, 4:44 pm

I have to agree with Pam and everyone else who said that you need your own dirt to become a gardener. I’m 28 and when I bought my house when I was 26, gardening became my main hobby. All of my friends my age rent and none have been more ambitious than cactus on the balcony, but they all love my backyard. The crazy heat of Texas tends to deter container gardening. Maybe it’s different in more mild climates?

Ellis Hollow December 24, 2007, 11:01 am

I’m way, way late again Kathy. This post has been open in my browser 10 days now.

I’ve commented elsewhere about the relationship between gardening and home ownership, which some commenters have reinforced here. There’s nothing like owning property and envisioning yourself living there for a few decades to get you interested in gardening. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen for many of us, whether we’re 30-something or 50-something.

I’m with the marketing folks in wanting to get more young people involved in gardening. But not by selling them pre-arranged pots that will be thrown away once they start looking a little punky.

What attracts me to gardening is that it can be productive, instead of consumptive. You do your homework and buy a pretty perennial that matches your site. In a few years, you have much more of that pretty perennial that you can plant around your yard or share with others.

I remember one of the first gardeners I knew back in my early 20s — a big-time veggie gardener — telling me that what he liked about gardening as a hobby is that while he was visiting with me, his garden what busy soaking up sun and making sweet corn.

Have a good holiday.

Amy Stewart December 23, 2007, 12:56 pm

Great conversation. I hope all those so-called marketing experts read this before they give their next “how to reach Gen X” talk.

I think the “why does it matter” question is a good one. It matters to retailers because they’re trying to make a buck (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But otherwise, does it really matter? I’m not interested in skiing–so what? Any effort the ski industry puts into getting me on the slopes is a waste of time. I have friends who will just never, ever garden. Big deal. They’ve got other things to do.

And I agree with the other commenters that our generation (I’m on the older end of Gen X) is settling down later. We’re spending our twenties in apartments, or, god forbid, in our parents’ spare bedroom, and we’re not even getting around to that little plot of land until our thirties or forties. Most of us become gardener when we have a little land, a little time, a little money. That’s just not happening for people in their twenties. I think that’s OK. In fact, we’d be better off if people who weren’t interested in gardening lived in townhouses and condos and apartments, leaving the land for parks and wild space.

Curtis December 20, 2007, 10:16 pm

Very good post on the younger(I guess I would be considered one of them) gardeners.

I think when a lot of new gardeners stick with it when they realize how addictive it can be and calming as well. It also helps having been raised with gardening family.

Karen December 19, 2007, 5:18 pm

Interesting conversation. I’m 65, sometime gardener, new blogger, although I’ve been maintaining web sites for more than 10 years and bought my first computer in 1980.

I was raised in England, so acquired an affection for gardens by osmosis. But sometimes I have some land, sometimes I have some time, and sometimes something else engrosses me.

I’m old enough now to have (some) time and arthritis. What I realize, however, aside from the fact that weeding is my form of meditation, is that gardening is my mode of artistic expression. My husband does the cooking (which is also artistic expression, of course). I can’t draw or paint or arrange flowers (or possibly I have no interest in learning) and gardening is it. However fleeting the moment when a plant or even, rarely, a whole flower bed, looks great, it’s my Monet moment!

Jessica December 19, 2007, 4:00 pm

“Once those in their twenties get married, buy their house and in general get over the newness of being an adult, will more of them turn to gardening? ”

As a 25-year old novice gardener, I think this statement does say a lot as to why not all of my friends are into gardening like I am (in fact, none of them are!). But, I am the only one who has a house…When my husband and I lived in an apartment, I had a sad little basil plant growing on a windowsill (which my cat eventually knocked over and chewed on anyway), and this was the extent of my green thumb! But, as soon as we got our house, I became addicted to dirt! I definitely think that as more of those in my generation “grow up” and have a place to call home, the more they will turn to gardening as a hobby (while listening to an iPod..haha).

Dave December 18, 2007, 8:06 pm

As a “younger gardener” at age 31 I have to agree with the idea that it’s the opportunity that influences people to garden. We just bought our first house this year in February and so I’ve finally been able to get in the yard and do the things I’ve wanted to for a long time. That’s not to say I did nothing before. I had vegetable gardens in pots. I raised radishes, onions, tomatoes, peppers and beans all in pots on an annual basis. I even planted lemon trees from seed and have three lemon trees overwintering in my garage as a result.

Part of it is the opportunity and part of it is the interest. I did chores around the yard when growing up. My family lived for a few years with my grandfather who had a rather large garden with a few orchard trees. I grew up with it to some extent and developed and interest early.

I think gardening will come around again to the younger generation as more people realize it’s benefits. For those who have the interest it may be a lack of opportunity and for those without interest they just don’t realize what they’ve been missing!

CommonWeeder December 16, 2007, 4:54 pm

What is a gardener and when does one become a gardener? Perhaps someone who is devoted to his lawn wouldn’t consider himself a gardener, but still he is interested in at least one family of plants. My father who grew up in NYCity during the 20s and 30s where there were very few plants of any kind, fell in love with his lawn when he got his first house in 1953. By the time he died he was mowing acres of fields around his old farmhouse in the country. He was a happy man and the fields looked great. Why get bogged down with labels.
Then there is the problem of what people in their 20s are doing with their time – working, meeting and mating! Do they count as gardeners if they only have a pot plant or two?
For myself, I wasn’t that interested in gardening until I had a house and children, but by then, with five children born within 6 years, there wasn’t a lot of time for playing in the dirt. Some. But not a lot.
I think that maybe it just takes time to grow a gardener, and that no little interest or effort should be dismissed or denigrated. All steps toward the garden should be celebrated.

Olivia54984 December 16, 2007, 11:23 am

(Added my zipcode to differentiate me!)

A little background:

Gardening is my hobby that has gotten out of control and developed into a business, which I am trying desperately to keep fun. When I am not gardening and selling my plants, I substitute teach during the school year. I ejected from the 8 – 5 corporate life in a large metro area shortly after the 9/11 horrors. I came from a rural area, to which I decided to return.

So why aren’t younger people gardening?

A lot of different reasons, but they boil down to time.

Gardening and appreciation of plants is something that was passed along by our parents and grandparents. As people’s jobs have departed from agrarian beginnings and people work in jobs requiring intense specialization that have also repaid people in high disposable incomes everyone is buying it (food, flowers, landscaping, colorpots) rather than growing it. And disposable income brings with it disposable thinking.

I think with the coming Green Wave, returning to ideas of edible landscaping, learning to rejuvenate overgrown plans, composting in our yards, using native plants, providing rain gardens to contain run-off, using gray water, and shelter belts are all going to be better understood by the younger generation of gardeners to be.

I often sell plants at farm markets and craft fairs and something I see is younger people want to garden, but they have a lot of questions about the plants that appeal to them. They want to learn, but aren’t getting it from the big box stores. They are also bereft not having parents or even grandparents who are gardeners. They haven’t absorbed agrarian living through osmosis.

As any gardener knows, even after gardening 20 years, a gardener is at the beginning of their personal learning curve. Every gardener has something to share, knowledge, plants, techniques. We need to reach out to our children, neighbors.

To borrow from the literacy people… “Each one teach one!”

Jocelyn December 15, 2007, 10:24 pm

I am 23, and I love to garden. I think Olivia summed my views up almost perfectly. I know a lot of young people, myself included, who will do a lot of gardening- once we have a good space to do it in. Right now I’m living in a small apartment, with only a small porch that can fit a couple containers. I also have a LOT of student loans to worry about before I will be able to invest a decent amount of money into my hobby.

Kim December 15, 2007, 10:08 pm

What an interesting post… and thoughtful responses. I certainly didn’t “learn to be a gardener” from my parents. We had a veggie garden one year, only because my Mom had been laid off and had the summer to help us tend it. There were some rose bushes, a peony, and a huge lilac in the yard–but that wasn’t a garden. It was landscaping, albeit landscaping that they did themselves, and it required very little interaction.

My grandma next door has a few “pretties” in her yard (mostly passalong plants, as she’s never had much money to spend on luxuries) but they never really had a veggie garden. My other grandma and grandpa had two huge veggie gardens, but they mostly grew things that I didn’t know or like–kohlrabi, kale, and such. (I love them now, but my childhood tastebuds did not.) The one thing I do remember enjoying in their garden is the big thicket of raspberry bushes… I was so sad when they cut all of those down.

I started out wanting to make the front of the house look nice and wanting to grow my own tomatoes and fresh herbs… but is there something in gardening, or in my personality, that made me fall down the slippery slope headfirst and become what I am today?

Kathy Purdy December 15, 2007, 9:39 pm

mss–it sounds like you did the best you could with a difficult situation. I hope you don’t feel guilty in any literal sense for raising a non-gardening son. And who knows? He may yet surprise you.

Kathy Purdy December 15, 2007, 9:34 pm

Xris, I believe that we all have that “need for green,” too, and I hope we can meet the challenges of an urban environment. Maybe we should all go on the Garden Walk in Buffalo.

Kris, I most certainly believe gardening is a form of artistic expression. Throughout my school years and well into adulthood, I believed myself to be “not artistically talented.” One day I realized how opinionated I had become about form, color, texture, and the use of space in my garden, and that these were the same concepts applied to other visual arts.

Kathy Purdy December 15, 2007, 9:12 pm

Asparagus, I know a lot of gardeners who hated outdoor chores as a kid. Isn’t part of the problem the fact that you had to follow someone else’s agenda? Chores are unavoidable, but I try to make sure my children have “a bit of earth” to tend as they please. They choose what to plant, they choose whether or not to weed or water, etc.

Asparagus and Olivia both–I was about thirty when I started to garden in earnest. Owned the trailer I lived in, rented the lot it was on, but for the first time in a decade I had access to dirt! Urban gardening presents greater challenges than the suburbs or countryside. If more young people are living in urban areas, they will need a greater desire to overcome greater obstacles, no?

And Olivia, you are right about the finances being different. I remember reading an article in the WSJ that in terms of percentage of expenses, financial aid is not as generous as when I went to college, so students are saddled with proportionately greater loan balances when they graduate. But the building where you live sounds wonderful!

Kathy Purdy December 15, 2007, 8:47 pm

Pam, I want to believe what you think, that these younger adults will turn to gardening when they settle down. But I hear other voices–from the garden industry, from veteran garden writers, from books such as the one I mentioned above–that things are different, and we won’t see the same percentage of the younger generation turn to gardening as we have in the past. I don’t have my mind made up. I’m trying to sort things out, thinking out loud.

Bill, I believe you’re making a distinction between those who garden because they want to, and those who garden because they have to. We tell children they must learn to read and write because we consider those skills necessary for survival in our world. But should we mandate that they all learn to grow food, so if they need to someday, they can? I know it is another whole can of worms, but it is another thing I think about.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens December 15, 2007, 4:16 pm

Unfortunately I’m guilty of raising someone who I don’t think will ever be interested in gardening. He grew up in yardless apartments and condos and is not outdoorsey at all; he’s not interested in sports or camping, much less gardening. I couldn’t afford my own house until I was 37, so I came to gardening rather late in life. I can’t explain what draws me to the garden though–certainly not my own childhood experiences. My parents didn’t garden because my dad was in the USAF and we lived on base and moved every other year. However, I feel the need to connect to the earth–I mean literally to be down on my knees with my hands in the dirt.

As for the description of the iPod/Blackberry enabled “younger man”–that sounds more like my husband (44) than my son (28).

I do find this disconnect from nature to be a serious issue. People form warped views of reality when they spend so little time observing it. I wish that I had the passionate attention to detail and the boundless curiosity of say, Thomas Jefferson. I’m still striving for a better understanding.

Kris December 15, 2007, 7:53 am

Interesting conversation. What about gardening as art? I have a mother who can paint, draw, play honky tonk piano and yackety sax, both without sheet music. I can’t do any of that but I can create beautiful flower gardens. Gardening is how I express myself. Like many people who discover their talents after the kids are gone and they’re retired, I just didn’t have time to indulge myself when I was younger.

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) December 15, 2007, 1:26 am

“You can’t miss something you’ve never known.”

Deprivation and neglect can cause suffering. It may not be consciously identified, but it can be missed. Awareness of what’s missing is the beginning of recovering it.

In my journey of personal recovery, with awareness, I came to a question: How do I grieve the loss of something I never had? It took me a few more years to arrive at an answer: By getting it. It’s taken me several more years to begin to enjoy the fruition of that insight.

As we become increasingly urbanized, we are going to have to get very creative to find opportunities for gardening. On the other hand, that same compression of space will bring us together in new ways to find solutions we would otherwise have never dreamed of.

I believe the need for green is still wired into our genome. I have faith that we will re-discover that need and fulfill it.

heirloomgardener December 15, 2007, 12:41 am

I am 35 years old and am passionate about gardening. I did not pick this up from my parents. Like many of my peers who grew up in the suburbs, I had no appreciation for the natural world around me. Ironically, it was only when I moved to an urban environment–Brooklyn–when I started to garden. Perhaps it was the lack of space indoors that made me want to get my hands dirty and make our tiny little backyard someplace beautiful.

Digital Flower December 14, 2007, 9:33 pm

I read your post with interest, I’ll have to think about it. Not sure how everything is going to play out but generally I think that gardening will continue with other generations. It has always had an ebb/flow type of popularity and its been on the upswing for a long time now. Perhaps it will become more popular with younger people again. You know kind of everything that was old is new again type of thing.

Olivia December 14, 2007, 6:15 pm

As a recently married 25 year old–who works for a garden publisher that is constantly asking the question “Why doesn’t the younger generation garden?”–I think part of the answer comes down to the Space/Time Continuum (with a little bit of money added in).

With the expansion of urban areas, and more and more “young” people moving into down town areas there just isn’t room to have a decent garden. I personally live in a quaint (and that doesn’t mean run down, it just means it was built in the 1930s) apartment complex with beautifully landscaped grounds. We have pesky ivy *everywhere* but also numerous flowering shrubs that I have yet to learn the names of, roses, daylilies, calla lilies, heucheras, rhodies, hostas, dozens of other plants, and what appears to be an 80 year old oak tree in the center of our court yard.

My own garden involves more than a dozen potted plants divided between home and the office, and on the days when they all need to be watered it feels overwhelming. I can’t imagine tending to something larger at this time in my life—not to mention a pet or child–and am very grateful to my property manager for taking such good care of the grounds so I can enjoy them from a distance. It’s not so much a lack of desire as a lack of space and time.

Another factor is that gardening costs money–something most people at entry level positions in cities don’t have a lot of. Rental costs are rising almost as quickly as housing costs, and higher education costs aren’t far behind. Combined with a lack of garden space and personal time, the money that could go to gardening usually goes to something a little more attainable—like a quick bite to eat, a movie, or into a savings account.

Both my grandmother and mother garden–my grandmother’s gardens were so beautiful people would stop on the side of the road just to take pictures. I come from a history of faithful gardeners, and will happily join in at the right time of my life, which unfortunately will have to wait a bit.

People my age *are* watching what’s happening in the garden world—we love the idea of container planting and design, and are really excited by the green and sustainable gardening movements. We’re just waiting for our lives to settle down before we put our own roots in the ground!

Asparagus Maximus December 14, 2007, 6:07 pm

From a garden blogger wanna-be, 33, I see two trends with folks my age:

1. Condo living. You’ve got to have a patch of your own first.
2. Backlash from life in suburbia. Growing up, every kid was a slave to the lawnmower every Saturday, raking all fall, pruning all spring. It was a chore. The lawn and garden were lumped together as an unpleasurable source of work. It’s not until I’d moved to a city that I long for a plot of my own.

BTW, great blog.

bill December 14, 2007, 2:34 pm

Who is a gardener? We may not want to count as gardeners those who just want to satisfy their neighborhood association requirement of planting two trees in their front yard. But maybe we should not count as gardeners our grandparents who only grew vegetables because it was the only way to put food on the table.

Is all knowledge worth passing on? There used to be near where I grew up a shop owned by a man who was known as a carburetor expert. What is the value of his expertise now that there are no carburetors? What about all my valuable knowledge of Windows 3.1? Everybody always acquires a lot of knowledge and expertise that only has value in a certain time and place.

But aside from all that I can’t help but think that everyone gains something special by being close to nature. I think that younger people are missing out by not being exposed through gardening and other avenues.

Pam/Digging December 14, 2007, 1:39 pm

Kathy, I enjoyed your post, and I’ve followed the discussion on other blogs. But I just can’t get worked up about this issue.

It seems to me that many people discover they enjoy gardening once they get that first plot of dirt to play in. That’s how I got started. At the relatively young age of 25, my husband and I bought our first house. A gardener had lived there—that was obvious—and I eyed all those unknown shrubs and perennials with a wary eye. But one day, on a whim, I gathered the courage to plant a shrub (a gardenia), and voila! I was hooked.

I think gardening is an interest and a hobby, like so many others, and it’ll grab some people and not others, as it always has. For the lucky few, gardening will become a passion, and like other passionate people we’ll agonize over whether the next generation will understand the IMPORTANCE of what we do.

Meanwhile I see elementary students eagerly planting and weeding in the school garden I help with. If they’re the generation everyone is concerned about, I’m not worried.