Any reader of the great garden blog, Garden Rant, likely saw a recent post by the well loved and respected Allan Armitage. Entitled; Gardening is a four-letter word; the education of a plant guy, he expressed some concerns about it’s current popularity. In the end, he gave hope and encouragement to the future of plants and gardening.
I too have some of the same concerns, and like Allan, feel that gardening is too important to simply fade into the sunset. Unfortunately, I feel we have our work cut out for us to keep it higher on people’s priority list, at least for the near future. As a full-time gardening communicator, this is made apparent to me everyday. I responded to his post with a few observations of my own. Take a moment to read what I said and let us know what you think.
“Hi Allan and you sure picked a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Is gardening dead? No, but you'd never know that by trying to find a gardening show on television. Or, even trying to read up on a few gardening columns in your local paper. Many newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal had a dedicated, weekly section for "Home and Garden", now relegated to just a few pages within another section.
Unfortunately, many of the television networks, i.e. HGTV and DIY, have all but dropped gardening for two reasons. According to an HGTV exec-producer friend of mine, "gardening" isn't on any network's radar anymore. Landscaping maybe, but only if it's a makeover show. Please not another one of those! The young network execs, don't relate to "gardening" and their advertising-driven clients don't see us as a lucrative target audience for their product.
Similarly, those same big money advertisers don't seem to want television hosts over 30 hosting "their" shows since the viewers they want to attract are late teens to mid 20's; sadly, a group not yet viewed as a target demographic for gardening, too busy to do it themselves and who doesn't identify with "more mature" experts.
When I was picked to host Fresh from the Garden on DIY Network, they were looking for a "Real"gardener between 35 and 45. Perfect, and it made sense. Now, 25 is pushing the upper limits! Just ask former "mature" TV Gardening hosts Joe Washington, Erica Glasener, Rebecca Kolls and most recently, Paul James. Not only did I learn a lot by watching these and other shows, they made me want to garden. Sadly, we have less of those opportunities than ever. And Allan, even the show you were a part of on PBS, was too short-lived and the one I host, constantly struggles with funding support. Advertisers we've relied on for years aren't putting the money towards gardening.
So, maybe my perspective is a bit different, but I'm out there as much as anybody and I can tell you, although gardening is not a four letter word, we are having to work harder than ever to convince people of that. As avid gardeners, educators, and communicators, I believe we all need to cast a spotlight on the "importance of gardening". We already know what it does for us mentally and physically, but done properly, it helps the environment, promotes nutrition and health, teaches our children, unites strangers and nurtures our souls”.
What do you think? Is gardening alive and well, or are we losing ground to a world of increasing demands for our time and resources?