If I invited you to a seed-saving event in the upstairs of a local church, how would you respond?
Well it just happened to me! I was invited to a ‘Seedy Saturday’ event in small town Ontario. For those of you who haven’t participated in one of these, it’s basically a spot to buy and swap seeds for your gardens. Now you are probably picturing the same type of gathering as I did: in a church or library full of the blue-haired crowd. Well, we both got it wrong. (Very, very wrong!) Seedy Saturday was packed with twice as many people under the age of 30 as over. Not only were the customers young…so were a lot of the vendors.
After my head stopped spinning, I realized that this was the next generation of gardeners; pushing strollers with their lattes and talking about the pole beans and tomatoes that they are going to try this year.
I’ve been watching outdoor trends for the last 15 years, and this is exactly what I was hoping would happen. Wait long enough and it will be back in fashion. Apparently getting your hands dirty is hot for Millennials!
80’s – The vast perennial beds with amazing specimens of blooms from all around the world were most popular. People and gardeners invested in having flowers that were rare and unique. Sometimes neighbours would share, but often keep one special plant just for themselves. Garden clubs were in every community and fed our horticultural obsession.
90’s – The landscapers moved in to help homeowners who felt the need to have plants, but didn’t have a green thumb of their own. Mass plantings of flowers and shrubs have replaced individual specimens. Instead of 50 types of plants in a yard, the list got smaller and smaller, with focus on plants that did more than just flowered for a few weeks in May. Large grasses and variegated perennials that bloomed all summer became popular as homeowners wanted more reward for less work.
00’s – Patios and decks quickly replaced beds of flowers and large lawns in our backyards. Now homeowners wanted plants in contained spaces. Raised beds and container plantings became the extent of flowers and shrubs in our low-maintenance outdoor rooms. Easy to care for with a controlled mess, plants were chosen more for privacy and greenery than actual blooms.
Today – We are back to a new generation of homeowners wanting to put vegetable gardens in a corner of the yard. They are happy letting the kids get dirty, mucking around in the soil and growing their own carrots and beans. All of the focus has moved to flavours and colours, with gardeners experimenting with forgotten varieties and rare heirlooms that they can share with their neighbours…or just keep for themselves.
It’s a little bitter sweet. I’m excited that gardening is back, but it totally sucks that I am officially old enough to realize that it ever went away! If you plan on putting in the veggies this spring, promise me you’ll keep a little of the outdoor luxury…lets hang on to our beautiful patios and furniture and not go back to eating on picnic tables. (My back can’t handle it!)