Welly Woman often writes thought provoking posts about her thoughts on gardening; she writes very convincingly and shares her ideas in a clear, often amusing way. Yesterday she posted Is Gardening Cool Enough?
I remember a few years ago that the press were obsessed with gardening as ‘the new rock and roll’; everyone was trying to convince us that gardening was sexy! Well, as much as I love gardening and I personally couldn’t imagine a happy life without some kind of garden I don’t think it is sexy. The reasons WW gives for younger people not gardening are completely valid and I think that like cooking, gardening is something a lot of people do but don’t love doing.
I don’t share WW’s opinion of the idea of the outside room, I think it helps people connect to a space that maybe intimidates them. Also as much as I share the view of many ‘true gardeners’ that ‘make-over’ programmes of the past as being unrealistic; I think they did actually connect with a lot of people who suddenly felt they could ‘do’ something with their pocket handkerchief-sized garden (there I’ve used a word that probably doesn’t even exist in the dictionary any more).
I live in a place where gardening is not a leisure activity; but where a huge number of people still grow a lot of their own fruit and vegetables (my local supplier sells about 24 different varieties of plug tomato plants!). A place where the fact that I have created a garden around my home will probably mean its value is less rather than more when we come to sell it – whereas I think it is still true that a well-designed garden will add 10% to a house’s value and will certainly increase the likelihood of a quick sale if the market is depressed.
I actually blame the recent TV programmes and the RHS for being so obsessed with ‘growing your own veg’. Vegetable growing is one of the most labour intensive forms of gardening and we all know that everyone really wants a low maintenance garden! Added to that the weather in the last two years made growing vegetables even more difficult, the non-summer of 2012 must have discouraged almost all of those new to gardening.
Is there a solution? I don’t have an answer to that I’m afraid; I don’t think that a couple of new programmes on TV will make much difference and one on allotments is, in the long term, going to put more people off when they see the hard work involved and the multitude of disasters than can befall even a keen amateur. A direct comparison can be made to the Great British Bake Off; on the last series they were all ‘good bakers’ but just think how often they messed up on even quite simple bakes – good TV maybe, but an encouragement to get out the scales and start baking? I think not!