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
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