Monday, October 29, 2012

Sex & the City or Plants? Choose Wisely

First off, I hope all of you who are Mid-Atlantic and New England readers are safe and at home as Hurricane Sandy comes blundering in.  Let's hope the power stays on long enough to publish this post!

An article was published today in Today's Garden Center Magazine by their new associate editor, Karli Petrovic.  The article, titled 'Why I'm Not Gardening (... And No One Else My Age is Either)', is an op-ed discussing why Gen Yers are not giving garden centers a portion of their purchasing power.  Karli claims that commitment issues are not at stake, but instead that 'gardening' is seen as 'work'.  If I remember correctly, I think I made this very claim two weekends ago at a cocktail party with fellow industry leaders.  Bob at Dickman's, correct me if I'm wrong.  And important to note, the last cocktail party I had been to was in July - quite the dry spell for a Gen Yer and I'm sure Karli would agree.

There are many garden center owners and buyers who are probably reeling in their seats after reading this article.  The blasphemous double speak!  The poor cash-strapped Gen Yer!  Oh those Gen Yers who only want to spend their money on booze and clothes -- they're so detached from the real world!  I partially agree with them, but realize that I too was once in Karli's "WOOO! Post College!" mindset.  Yes, in grad school I'd rather spend my tip money from working as a barista on drinks at Pixel.  Yes, I used to have a much more extensive wardrobe.  However, note the past tense -- there has over time been a change in my mindset, and even though at 23 I wasn't ready for plants, I wasn't ready for a pet or a child either for that matter.  But what I was or wasn't ready for was not the same for ALL 23 year old's, or ALL of my friends.  One important take away for the readers AND Karli: beware of superlatives and over reaching generalizations.

However, I feel the true issue is not that gardening is perceived as work, but that the horticulture industry is not speaking or promoting plants in Gen Yers' terms.  We don't want to garden, we want to make Summer Salad with our neighbors and friends.  We don't want to garden, we want to have our own hops for our home-brewing project.  We don't want to keep a house-plant, we want to collect comic books.  Ok.  So that last example doesn't involve plants, but the collecting and nerdy culture of comics could easily be transmitted to collecting succulents and telanzias.  Make no mistake though -- those of us who do have container gardens, rooftop gardens, edible landscapes, house plants to make the apartment more "inviting to the ladies" sure as hell do NOT want large swaths of petunias as you'd see back in the 90s.  Those days are lame and gone, my friend.

Are you a Gen X/Yer who just recently started gardening?  I'd love to hear how you started living with plants, and why you enjoy it!  Please share your comments.

Maybe Karli needs to read my post from earlier this fall about killing plants.  It's alright Karli -- I kill mint too.

Plant on and rock on,

Song for the Garden: Little by Little -- Groove Armada

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait Part 2

The bulbs arrived!!!

So only a week later than I wanted, I arrived home from work this afternoon to a small white box filled with bulbs from Holland!  Actually not Holland but Lewisburg, Ohio.  Those posers and their "DIRECT FROM HOLLAND!!!" plastered over their website and the daily emails I've been receiving since placing my order.

At any rate, the bulbs arrived in great shape, and the iris came with a cute name tag wrapped around the shoot.  Nick and I planted our goodies this afternoon and were watering in the plants just in time before it got too dark to see what we were doing.  I would have taken photos to share with you all, but Nick's camera battery needed charging and my camera was left at my parents home earlier this fall.  We'll just have to wait until spring to share!

Happy fall planting, everyone!

Plant on,

Song for the Garden: Hurry Up & Wait - Stereophonics

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

In August I stumbled upon a Dutch bulb company while researching colors of amaryllis for work.  This happened to be during one of the hottest weeks of the year and my garden at home was looking as horrible as the neglected patch of invasive weeds in my neighbor's yard.  My garden was surely in need of a life makeover, and I was dreaming of cooler fall weather.  After browsing the online catalog, I put together a wish list and placed an order later that weekend with Nick.  We were excited (ok, honestly I was excited; Nick just thought ordering some plants was nice) for our future fall planting project in early October.  I also liked the fact that next spring we would have flowers for fresh cut bouquets.  The order confirmation noted the bulbs would arrive in late September.  Sweet!

Poppy Anemone Mixture
Poppy Anemone 'Mixture', one of the items I ordered (and really want to plant)

In September I decided to schedule a week off from work for early October.  I was past due for a vacation and decided October would be a great time to have a stay-cation to spruce up the garden, put together some fall combination planters, and plant the order of bulbs.  Then I got an email from the bulb company: "Important Update Regarding Your Order."  The delivery date was MOVED!  Moved to LATE OCTOBER!  I was crushed with my plans for an idyllic gardening vacation thwarted.

The bulb industry side of horticulture is so different from the rest of the industry -- it seems to have a bit more whimsy, more magic, something you can't quite put your finger on but spark curiosity.  In college we learned about tulips and how they were a form on currency in ancient cultures, where different colors yielded different monetary values; if I remember correctly, one of the first "market bubbles" was the tulip market.  Seems almost too good of a story to be true; perhaps great tulip industry branding efforts?  Other parts of the industry just seem so unorganized.  My undergraduate advisor would receive shipments of free bulbs to use for research experiments.  Some years there would be more bulbs than research and my friend Cheni and I would spend part of our summer composting bulbs that had gone unused and rotted in the greenhouse coolers.  Then there's last year's Dig, Drop, Done campaign that was so campy I to this day have no idea whether consumers bought it, found it appalling, funny, whimsical, or just plain stupid.  Kind of like the email confirmation when my bulb order was placed: "For Zone 6a, expect your order to arrive between September 15th and November 15th."  It's amazing that the bulb industry can operate so lackadaisical, when the rest of the horticulture industry demands live inventory stats and immediate order confirmations.  Maybe this is just a bad experience with this particular bulb company (that's been in business mind you since 1818, or so their website states), but I seem to remember other bulb companies having similar work ethics.  Am I missing something here?  Do I just have over-rated expectations because I, like other Americans, sometimes have "I want it NOW" consumer habits?  Are the Dutch onto something with their more laid back attitudes?

At any rate, I still am missing my order of bulbs. Please send ASAP.  ::Sigh::

Plant on,

Song for the Garden: Now Generation - Black Eyed Peas