by Sharon Wren
Sharon Wren is a freelance writer who has been allowed to roam the Internet for over five years, writing for anybody who is brave enough to let her. She writes the Wildlife News & Humor Column for Suite 101, is the Managing Editor for Humor and Satire there and writes funny stuff for Laughter Loaf, Absolute Write and Inscriptions. To prove she’s diverse, she also writes about parenting for Child Care Magazine and Child Care Sentinel. She wrote two books in 2001, “Overworked & Underpaid” for Albooktross.com and “Dr. Spock Never Said It’d Be Like This” for Self Help Guides. Com. Yes, she’s insane.
She lives on an island on the Mississippi River with her husband, 2 small sons, 5 dachshunds, 2 cats and assorted ducks, geese and other critters. Like we said, she’s insane. Want more proof? Her influences include Martha Stewart, Erma Bombeck, Weird Al and Kevin Smith.
Be sure to visit her site at http://i.am/overworkedandunderpaid
Gardeners are always eager to learn what the new trends will be. Will ornamental grass be the new "must have" this season? Are growers ready to (finally) introduce a hassle-free rosebush? Is there a new weapon in the battle against slugs? This year promises to be different. The new gardening trend isn't a new product or plant. The new trend in gardening is ... gardening.
Since September 11, people have felt an increasing need to be close to home. Part of that is due to a worsening economy; people can't always afford to take vacations to exotic places. Part of it is also due to a desire to be around the familiar, the comforting, the safe and secure and for most people, that's the definition of home. People want to believe there are still beautiful things in the world and what is more beautiful than a plant in full bloom? Therefore, people will be naturally attracted to gardening.
In an article in the January 1, 2002 issue of American Nurseryman called "Emotional Retailing - Helping Customers Create Contemplative Spaces In Their Gardens Can Bring Comfort And Healing", Judy Sharpton describes gardens as safe havens "in an increasingly bewildering world". She goes on to say that gardens are a refuge "offering home and a sense of spiritual well-being. Consumer research has revealed three primary reasons people garden - stress relief, exercise and creating a space for friends and family. Today, however, we may be able to add one more emotional basis for gardening - planting hope."
Pat Hammer agrees. Hammer, owner of Samia Rose Topiary in Encinitas, CA says, "I cannot think of anything that gives people more peace and serenity than gardening. I think we should start the campaign and tell people it is a way to feel better about the world." In tough times, "I think that people tend to revert to what is comfortable in their lives. Things their grandmothers grew and such. 'Comfort plants', like the comfort food of our childhood".
Evidence of gardening's stress relief abilities can be found in the nation's botanical centers, according to Tom Brinda, Assistant Executive Director for Horticulture and Education at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. "I was in Minnesota during the holiday, and on a recent snowy and cold day in St. Paul, the Como Park Conservatory had hundreds of folks visit their plant displays. Folks of all ages--together under those glass domes. It was an inspiration for me to see folks looking at flowering plants for their beauty, function and see them respond to the interpretive messages. In the kid's area, all ages were sniffing the scent bottles and looking at plant parts. Volunteers were working to explain and have fun too. While this is an audience predisposed to liking the natural world, they did have other choices on that day and could have stayed in the relative warmth of their homes! But they were in a glass house winter garden."
Another reason for a resurgence in gardening deals with the struggling economy. Companies all over the country, large and small, are cutting back on their workforce and thousands of people are finding themselves suddenly jobless. Even giants like K-Mart and Ford are being hit hard. People won't always have enough disposable income for trendy fruits and vegetables so if they want shallots, radicchio and Thai peppers, they have to grow them. In this instance, gardening relieves the mind and the wallet. Someone who has been laid off may have the extra time to put in a big garden and can save a great deal of money by growing staples like tomatoes and beans.
Still another reason may have to do with the nation's new attitude towards helping their fellow man. After 9/11, blood banks in New York and elsewhere were overwhelmed with people willing to donate. Millions and millions of dollars have been sent to help those directly affected by that day's events. Now the emphasis is turning towards helping other charities. Plant A Row encourages gardeners to plant an extra row of tomatoes, carrots and so forth and donate them to a local food pantry or homeless shelter. More information can be found at their website, http://www.plantarow.org. While donating blood and/or money is wonderful, so is sharing the fruits (literally) of your garden labor.
We gardeners have known for years about the therapeutic and economic benefits of gardening. Now it appears that the rest of the country is discovering our secrets. If nothing else, this new fascination with gardening will spur newbies to buy seeds and tools, thereby stimulating the economy. I think I'm going to "stimulate the economy" this weekend. You should to, and bring a friend.