Me… In the media… People… Blogging… Gardening…

The American GardenerI was in the media again, mentioned along side such greats as You Grow Girl, Garden Rant, Cold Climate Gardening, Gardening Tips N’ Ideas, May Dreams Gardens and Doug Green’s Garden. It was in an article in The American Gardener about how to start a garden blog (written by Doug Green). As always, I am flattered (and a bit bewildered) that anyone feels my blog is worth mentioning.

It appears that this article has touched off a bit of a discussion on Cold Climate Gardening about blogging, gardening and generational clashes. Kathy Purdy asked:

I’d especially like to know what would make blogging more appealing to older gardeners. (Older meaning old enough to be my parent, and I’m almost fifty.) They have a wealth of experience to share, but are the least likely to share it online.

Then, in response, Katie at Garden Punks

Why aren’t people in younger generations interested in gardening?!

I mention both of these comments because I think they are related, mostly in that I think there is a lot of misconception about them.

In response to Kathy’s question, many people replied that old people simply are not online. Having managed a site for a company that is targeted to senior citizens, I know for a fact that this is not the case. Senior citizens are the rapidly growing group online. So they are on the computer, they just choose not to blog. That doesn’t actually answer Kathy’s question, but it at least eliminates the most common answer.

In response to Katie’s question. I think younger generations do garden. I do see it. I know plenty of young people (25 – 35)who keep a vegetable garden or at least a few plants for pleasure. No, they are not as deeply involved in it as I am, they can’t go on and on for hours about it like I can, but they do enjoy plants and the act of growing something. They garden, as far as I am concerned.

There are many young (under 35) people who grow things and demure from calling themselves gardeners because they either feel they don’t have the right to or don’t want to be associated with the title.  Which worries me, because that means they consider gardening on the same level as stamp collecting or… air sickness bags collecting. That is a problem.

28 thoughts on “Me… In the media… People… Blogging… Gardening…
  1. Hi Hannah,

    I thought the generational concerns between me and Kathy were sort of funny and ironic, coming from opposite generations and all.

    Most people I know (under 35 crowd) have about as much interest in gardening as they do in other “boring” activities (stamp collecting for one). Gardening is as much as you’re willing to put into it, but I guess folks just have other hobbies.

    I just fear that my generation and the one directly below me won’t know how to use a shovel.

    Thanks for continuing the conversation.

    Katie at GardenPunks

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  2. Hi Hannah,
    Your web site was also mentioned today on an online meeting with the Garden Writers Association as an example of a “blog done right!” I had to tell you. Great work, keep it up!

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  3. I remember reading a long time ago about gardening activities peaking a few years after home purchase peaking. People buy houses. They get the interior the way they want. Then they turn to the yard.

    I’m not a real estate expert. But I know there is a lot of turmoil in the housing market. I don’t know too many 20-somethings who think they will be living where they are now 10 years from now. For those focused more on the results than the process of gardening, that’s got to limit their willingness to invest in their landscape much beyond keeping the grass mowed.

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  4. Gardening is uncool?!?!?? I had no idea. What does that say about my age group, I wonder?

    Craig raises an interesting point about the relation between housing and gardening. Another thing is the restrictions set forth by homeowners associations. No vegetable gardens that can be seen from the street, and no hedges without association approval, are two examples from here. In many suburbs, this is just about the only kind of housing available if you want a single-family house.

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  5. Hanna on

    GirlGoneGardening – Gardening Power!

    Katie – I think that if you asked around, you would probably find more than you think. This is what I mean. In the houses behind mine, there are 3 young familes (parents are all under 35, most under 30) who all keep a small veggie garden, but if you asked them if they were gardeners, each of them woud say no.

    When they think of gardener, they think someone who fusses over flowers constantly. I know many people who routinly plant flowers and bulbs in their yard (and enjoy doing so) or have large collections of houseplants and none of them would call themselves gardeners.

    Shirley Bovshow – Thanks for letting me know!

    Ellis Hollow – You bring up a good point. It makes me wonder if younger people have always been less prone to gardening.

    entangled – Yes, I do fear that the term “gardener” has taken on an uncool conotation. When people my age think gardener, I think many of them conjure up little old biddies fussing over dahlias or roses. Quaint, maybe, but not cool. Gurrilla gardening started to bring gardening into the cool zone, but the gardening media has not picked up on it much. To them it is a flash in the pan.

    Most gardening media is geared towards an older gardener. We younger gardeners are being left out because the industry thinks we have no money. The problem is that if they do not woo us now, we will be lost forever.

    Perhaps there should be two terms for a gardener, like with cooking you have “chef” and “cook”. Technically, I suppose we have “gardener” and “master gardener”. But they are becoming synonymous with each other.

    We need to make younger gardeners feel included. I don’t think that is happening right now.

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  6. I’m under 30, and the reason I don’t call myself a gardener out loud yet is that I don’t feel I know enough to merit the title. Gardeners are people who know things about plants, who have plants as their hobby, not just people who grow things…that’s more or less my thinking (or was at the beginning of the year; things are changing now). In the same way, as you said, I cook things, but I don’t call myself a chef or a foodie.

    I tend to think that with the growing emphasis on going green and eating local, gardening will become more popular and grow among younger people…like knitting has.

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  7. When I did a bulb giveaway recently, every single person who was new to me who came by was in the under 30 crowd. There are definitely a lot of younger people gardening. I asked each of them (who lurk on my blog–which is how they knew about the bulb giveaway) why they typically didn’t leave comments–mentioning how we bloggers love comments. One said she felt a bit intimidated. Another said she was thinking of starting her own blog. She has, since, and leaves comments more frequently, too.

    I hate these cross-generation accusations. Rather than creating an inclusive community they tend to make people circling the parameters defensive.

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  8. mss @ Zanthan Gardens wrote: “Another said she was thinking of starting her own blog. She has, since, and leaves comments more frequently, too.”

    That’s me she’s writing about. :) I don’t update my weblog as often as I work in my garden, but I’m an avid reader of gardening weblogs and have been for the last six months or so.

    I personally became interested in gardening weblogs when my husband and I bought our first house this past summer. Having a yard to garden in (aside from a few pots on the balcony or patio) made me much more interested in what other people were doing in their gardens in my area. Our house came with its own fenced-in vegetable garden, so we’ve been growing vegetables as well as ornamentals.

    In my experience, there are a couple of limiting factors to gardening that could relate to age.

    First, you have to have a space to garden in. For younger folks living in apartments or rentals, that’s less of a possibility, though I think a container gardening weblog could be fascinating, as well, if done right.

    Second, you have to have enough time to devote to it, if you plan to extend your gardening beyond putting a few flowers in the ground a couple of times a year. I’ve been feeling this one a lot more lately, especially since the time changed and I get home after dark. I’m thinking maybe I should plant a moon garden.

    I try to find the time to maintain and add onto my garden during the weekends, while many of my contemporaries are doing more social things. I’m happy with that choice, but I think my more extroverted peers prefer to be out and about during their limited off-time.

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  9. I heard a term that fits perfectly- “gardener” for true gardeners and “yardener” for those who have a small hand in their landscape upkeep.
    Shirley

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  10. For the first time in 25+ years of urban gardening, I have opportunity to become involved with community gardening. A better term might be community through gardening. When we planted Daffodil bulbs in the new tree pits along a local commercial strip, I was amazed at the turnout. I’ve not lived in this neighborhood three years yet, but still, everyone who showed up was new to me. Over two weekends, I met 30 neighbors for the first time. And most of them were younger than me.

    Most people, young and old, don’t have houses or yards here. Most live in multiple-unit dwellings, whether apartments, condos, or co-ops. I’m finding that there is greater interest and demand for “growing things,” as Jenny put it, than there are opportunities to do so. Community gardening space is at a premium here; every community garden I know of has a waiting list. As populations become increasingly urbanized, this trend will be amplified.

    We “seasoned” gardener-bloggers have an audience when we can make connections between what we do in the ground and what’s happening in our neighborhoods and communities.

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  11. I’m 24, and even though all I have space for in my little apartment is some window boxes of herbs, and a few pepper or tomato plants, I definitely call it a garden!

    I can’t wait ’til I have the space to expand a bit, too.

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  12. Hanna on

    mss – I just want to clarify. I do not blame the generational gap in gardening on any generation, be it younger or older. I find that the people in gardening are always inclusive. But the media is a whole other issue. The gardening media is making younger generations feel excluded. And since media is the major way that younger people are initially exposed to gardening, therein lies the problem.

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  13. Hi Hanna,

    So did you know about this whole older generation gardener not blogging thing when you tried to talk me into blogging ? I thought you meant be logging – like in forestry ( yeah right ! ) so that was why I was reluctant.

    Aside from the fact that you have already covered the night time head lamp gardening scene – why should I come in and blog when I could be out in the garden…?

    Unless it would be to trade plants for the garden ?

    gotta go – ttfn.

    PS – see you on solstice day !

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  14. Congratulations to you, Hanna, on being in the American Gardener article! I came here from Katie’s blog… for some reason this new post didn’t appear in my bloglines – glad I didn’t miss it.

    It’s not just 20-somethings who doubt they’ll be living at their current address ten years from now. Does anyone feel sure that they’ll be in the same place in ten years? Philo and I have usually suspected we’d move again, but gardened anyway.

    I know people from their twenties to their eighties who plant gardens in containers on balconies and patios, or in whatever soil they can dig around rental houses – they may not own a home – but they just have to get their hands in the soil. Not too many ever blog about it, however!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  15. I’ve gardened in every decade of my life, so I was once a young gardener, now I guess I am a middle-aged gardener.

    I agree with you, Hanna, that the traditional gardening media doesn’t seem to target younger gardeners. Sometimes it is confusing who they are publishing for. Maybe it is time for them to step back and think about how to engage newer/younger gardeners to ensure they have an audience to write for in the future.

    After all, someone has to do something to make sure younger people know that gardening is NOTHING like stamp collecting or air sickness bag collecting. Maybe that’s where garden bloggers like you can help!

    By the way, it was an honor to be in that article with you.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

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  16. You’re right about that Annie. We all move around a lot these days. In the roughly 25 years I’ve been married we’ve lived in five houses, ‘owned’ (along with the bank) four of them and have left a string of gardens and yard improvements at each place. But I’m not normal. I think the number of folks who like to help plants grow just for kicks has declined, and the housing situation for many makes it easy to opt for the basic low-maintenance, low-skill landscape.

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  17. I freely self-identify as a garden enthusiast and obsessed gardener. I am a 30 year old and feel that gardening breaks the generational barrier. Through gardening, I am friends with people in their 60′s and 70′s that I never would have many conversations with otherwise. I do think that several of my peers have little interest in gardening. Perhaps they are too transient and not focused on a long-term stay on any piece of land. But who needs land, when you can always be a gardener of houseplants in an apartment!

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  18. Hanna, I want to point out to your readers that the blogs “chosen” for the article were those who were the higher ranked blogs on several search systems, such as Technorati, at the time the article was written. It wasn’t a random picking. As the author of that article, I didn’t just pick you out of a hat – your readers and other bloggers gave you so many good links that you scored high. It’s your readers who say you have a great blog and that, in the long run, is what really counts. You’re doing a great job Hanna. Keep it up!

    p.s. I don’t think the young/old thing is the issue here. I think it’s more a writer/non-writer divide. My .02

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  19. I’ve had this post sitting open for a couple days now, and I’ve been slowly formulating a response. I’m still turning ideas over in my head, but I figure that by the time I actually figure out what it is I want to say, this conversation will be long over.

    My husband and I are young gardeners, and we blog.

    I think the apparent lack of younger or older bloggers is really a problem of networking. When I first sought out to add garden bloggers to my repertoire, it was hard to find many sites. For example: Katie, this is the first I’ve come across your blog, and you can bet I’ll be adding it to my reader. One of my winter blog projects will be to create a monster list of links to other garden blogs.

    I admit I’m into vegetables much more than flowers, so that leaves out a sizable chunk of the garden blogosphere right there. But still–I read a ton of blogs in a lot of categories: garden, food, higher ed, medical, parenting, culture, homeschooling, gender studies, and politics. It seems like, EXCEPT for gardening, bloggers in all of those categories have an extremely large and close network. Most higher ed academic bloggers, for example, will link to dozens, if not hundreds, of other bloggers in the same genre. They refer to each other’s ideas in their own posts, comment at other blogs, and generally do a better job of fostering community. I’m not implying that garden bloggers are intentionally exclusionary or snobby. Maybe as a whole we’re just a little more ambivalent about all that.

    As for my husband and I, we don’t feel excluded, either online or in real life garden places, and we aren’t intimidated by older gardeners, or held back by the possibility of moving and leaving the garden behind. We know other young people who garden but don’t blog, just as I know lots and lots of academics who work in higher ed and don’t blog. I think online presence is representative of the population in most blog categories, and the problem of garden bloggers is finding and collaborating with the online population that’s already here.

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  20. Being a foreigner, I’m quite surprised about this discussion. Looking from outside on the English-speaking garden blog scene, it seems to me to be alive and kicking. There are so many interesting blogs from people of almost all ages that it is very difficult to keep up with them.
    Also, you have a very friendly and supportive comment culture, welcoming newcomers instantly. Even though I started my English-language blog only a couple of months ago, I have had more reactions than to the one that I’ve been keeping in German for about two years now.

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  21. You and your blog are brilliant!

    I think that we are at the beginning of a great reawakening in gardening interest. The seeds of this revolution are being planted right here on blogs like yours. Don’t underestimate your power to be an agent for this change.

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  22. I’m with Jenny upthread- I feel nervous referring to myself as a gardener because that implies I might actually know something. “Obsessed with gardening”, yes, easily. Gardener? Eek! I’ve been doing this for all of six months, what on earth do I know about it?

    I feel a similar nervousness about referring to my blog as a garden blog. It’s a blog about my life, within which gardening is extremely prominent right now (and I feel will remain prominent forever- this feels like an obsession that will stick). But I do other things, too, and write about them there, and I worry about promoting myself wholesale to people who might fall between ‘eyebrow-raised’ and ‘browser-shutting-down’ on reading about adventures in a queer urban community in between posts about the progress of my tomatoes. Is there a style-guide somewhere, a limit on how much you can talk about the world outside your garden and remain a garden-blogger? I’ve been blogging for much longer than I’ve been gardening, and I have yet to find the line between ‘personal blogger interested in gardening’ and ‘garden-blogger’.

    I’m 24, for the record.

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  23. Xris – “community through gardening” — I love that. Many of the gardeners I meet are through my guerilla gardening and social activism networks, and a desire to create community is what we really have in common. Many of these people – young or not-so-young – wouldn’t necessarily call themselves gardeners. But they’re doing it anyway, and having a blast. I always say gardening is all about trial-and-error, anyway.

    I believe gardening is alive and well amongst my peers (the under 35 crowd, though I think it has more to do about life stage than age). The aforementioned community-building, DIY, and local food movements are key drivers in growing gardening’s popularity. It may just look different than our parents’ ideas of gardening.

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  24. I am in the 25-35 year old range and am passionate about gardening. However, 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.

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  25. Both myself and my wife are 28. Neither of us had any family of prior experience growing veg apart from grandparents years ago! I am a ‘gardener’ on the weekends in my back garden and a teacher in a primary school during the week. I grow because i love the idea of ‘growing your own’ – not just putting any old thing in the ground, but, like we have, of running a 4-year rotation, and using the ground as best is possible. I’m very involved with it, and run a blog. I’ve found that not many people of my age are doing a similar thing…only a couple in Gloucester, but i do know quite a few people who grow on allotments or a back garden plot when they have the time.

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  26. I’m 22, and I enjoy gardening ! There’s nothing better for the nerves than unrooting a few weeds, watering the flower-beds and taking care of everything in the garden. Besides, afterwards, you can lie in the sun with a good book, right in the middle of a beautiful garden. And that’s fantastic…
    But I do have a problem with keeping an indoor plant. On my desk, my third cyclamen in a year is now asking for an intensive-cave unite. I keep my fingers crossed, water it and feed it, but I don’t know if it will see next spring…

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  27. Stockholm–your post made me laugh. I know how to care for my outdoor plants, but, like you, seem to have a problem keeping the indoor ones happy.

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