Gardening is still the #1 hobby in the U.S., which means it’s a huge market. That can be good and bad. On the plus side, there are plant and pest control improvements, lots of useful gadgets and tools and plenty of wonderful gardening web sites to share your enthusiasm and learn from other gardeners. On the negative side are the 10 trends listed below, which added nothing to the practice and love of gardening.
Let us know what you think were the worst gardening trends. And don't forget, there was plenty to be glad about, like these Best Gardening Trends of the 2000s.
Over 95% of the seed business is owned by a handful of large chemical companies, among them: Aventis, Dow, Du Pont, Mitsui, Monsanto and Syngent. Aside from the more obvious questions of safety this raises, there’s a disturbing trend toward the elimination of seeds from inventories. It’s just not profitable for companies to sell seed of open pollinated plants when they can charge a royalty every time someone purchases a seed under patent. So we’re losing a lot of our heirlooms and variety in general.
I’ve mentioned this in past years. I appreciate breeders wanting to recoup their R&D money, but come on. Half the fun of gardening is multiplying your plants. Doing so shouldn't make me a criminal. Surely the plant producers know that we'll keep spending money on new plants, no matter how many plants are already crammed into our gardens.
Honey bees have taken a big hit this past decade. They are extremely sensitive to the chemicals used in gardens and on farms. Mites have taken a toll on hives. Scientists are still trying to find the cause of honeybee colony collapse disorder
. Even the radiation from cell phones is now thought to be interfering with honeybees sense of direction, making them forget how to get home to their hives. Yes, there are other pollinators that may fill the void, but it’s disturbing when the status quo shifts and we don’t understand the causes. What’s next?
A little mulch each season is a good thing; it feeds the soil, cools the roots, blocks weeds and conserves water. But we’ve heard so much emphasis put on applying 3-4 inches of mulch each year that many of our plants are being buried alive. My favorite mulch is planting so closely no soil is exposed.
And how does volcano mulching - those hills of mulch at the base of trees - remain so popular in landscaping? Are the nurseries hoping the tree will die from rot or vole damage so you have to buy another one? Does someone think you need to pack soil around the tree base to keep it standing up?
5. Uber-Tidy LandscapingThe lawn is manicured, every leaf is blown, every shrub is trimmed, all exposed soil is topped with mulch, the walkway has the appropriate lamp post and hanging basket and there’s not a soul in sight. Even the squirrels are afraid to cross this lawn.
6. Ever Bigger Lawn Tractors, Chippers, Blowers...It seems that as cars get smaller, lawn equipment gets larger. Lawn tractors will be coming with DVD players soon. Until recently, lawn equipment had no emission standards and were not only inefficient burners of fuel, they also exacerbate pollution problems. According to the Mid-America Regional Council, “In one hour, a push mower emits as much pollution as 11 cars, and a riding mower emits as much pollution as 34 cars.” Then there’s the noise. But the device that gets the most demerits from me is the leaf blower. It takes twice as long to blow a lawn clean as it does to send your kids out to rake. Rather than making lawn equipment larger and more powerful, how about making the lawn smaller?
Is there a more welcome smell than the scent of damp soil in late winter? What a wonderful way to work up enthusiasm for the coming season - attending the long anticipated local Flower and Garden Shows
. Unfortunately economics forced several of the largest shows to close their doors last year. The New England Flower Show, the longest running show in the U.S., shut down after 137 years! San Francisco came close to shutting its doors and is still fighting for survival. Several others didn’t fare as well. These shows are more than splashy displays and marketplaces. They’re an opportunity to see what the industry considers the finest plants, the smartest gardening techniques and the latest research.
They say there are more types of insects in the world than any other animal and it seems we're destined to meet them all one by one. The Viburnum Leaf Beetle is creeping down from Canada, the Citrus Longhorn Beetle creeping eastward from the west coast and infesting trees other than citrus, the Balsam Woolly Adelgid picking up where the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid didn't go. And then there are the new diseases, like Sudden Oak Death, which is as depressing as it sounds.
On the other hand, invasive plants are holding their own. How much Creeping Charlie, Florida Bettuny, English Ivy or Perennial Pepperweed can one gardener be expected to pull? And why is it exotic insects never fly over to decimate the invasive weeds, only the cultivated plants?
Gardening is still the #1 hobby in American and a huge and diverse market, yet try and find a gardening show on television. I’m not talking about those 2 day, mega-buck landscape renovation shows. I’m lamenting the loss of shows targeted toward the hands-on gardener who wants to see what other people are growing and learn more. Shows like A Gardener’s Diary, Gardening by the Yard, The Victory Garden, Rebecca’s Garden and Gardening Naturally. Remember them? Apparently gardeners aren’t a desirable demographic. Thank goodness for the web. At least we can still congregate here.
10. Garden Snobs
Garden writers often fall into this category, but I’m sure you’ve all encountered a garden snob on a tour or at a plant swap, too. They’re the gardeners who always need the new and unique, the ones who look down their noses at red geraniums
and stripped petunias. Garden snobs don’t think you deserve to be considered a gardener unless you can rattle of Latin names and at least half your garden is from some expensive catalog or tucked away nursery. They don’t garden for pleasure, they garden for prestige.