Is the Magic of Gardening Dying a Slow Death?

Recently, a well-known gardener who has an outstanding gardening blog wrote a post saying that she had received an assignment to write an article for the magazine entitled Washington Home and Garden. In her post this gardener invited suggestions, comments, and ideas from her readers on topics that “they” would write about for a magazine with an “upscale suburban readership.” The following represents my comments to this post.

Congratulations. Since variety is the spice of life, I am going to write from an entirely different perspective than the views articulated by your other commenters (who, by the way, made some excellent suggestions and comments) 🙂

The Gardening Imagination

I am very concerned that certain rock solid, healthy, meaningful, productive, rewarding, and therapeutic activities such as gardening are dying a slow death. Let me explain. Right now in our country there are millions upon millions of people who have gardens. Thousands of these individuals will go out-of-state to visit other well-known gardens and countless others will go online everyday to read about gardening. These people have what I call “the gardening imagination.” These are the people who have been bitten by the “gardening bug.”

With such a vibrant gardening “base,” you may ask, where’s the evidence that gardening is dying a slow death? Please continue reading for the answer to this question.

The Desire To Involve Yourself in Gardening

Anything, including gardening, needs to be passed on to future generations if it is to survive and prosper. I recently read a blog post about a farmer/gardener who is in his 50s or 60s and who fondly remembers getting involved in gardening at seven or eight years old because he “wanted to garden badly.”

Does anyone out there get ANY indication, with extremely few exceptions, that the youth of today want to “garden badly”? My sense is that the vast majority of today’s young people don’t want to do much of “anything” badly except drive around with their friends, watch TV, party with their friends, listen to music on their iPods, talk on their cell phones for hours with their friends, play online games, and “hang” with their friends.

The Blind Leading the Blind

Perhaps I am missing something here but what in the world is so “special” about doing absolutely nothing that can be called productive or meaningful with your friends? To me, this is just an extreme example of the “blind leading the blind.” The result: many, if not most of our young people are staying away from healthy, outdoor physical activities (such as gardening) similar to the way they would avoid the plague. Let me state the obvious: this is NOT progress, this is NOT healthy, and this is NOT making a meaningful contribution to society. It is, however, to use a gardening term, a great example of “horse manure.”

The Need for Gardening Education

Perhaps you can address the points made above with a post on your blog or with an article in a magazine. The reality of the situation, however, is this: if the “older” generation does not make a gigantic effort to teach today’s youth about gardens and gardening, then today’s young people will NEVER discover the magic about working with their hands in the soil and they will NEVER feel and experience the special “connection with the earth” that is intrinsic to gardening. In short, without such an extensive educational effort, the “magic of the garden” will have lost its appeal with our youth. And when this happens, there will be no opening for a “garden writer” at Washington Home and Garden or anywhere else.

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