Possibilities vs. limitations

Field image courtesy of Sutterstock
Field image courtesy of Shutterstock

As I finish potting up bulbs against the winter, rejoicing in the new space for it I have now that I’m using the attic, it occurred to me that the effort to do more, to go beyond the perceived limits, is my favorite thing about gardening and it’s also why I don’t like certain types of gardening and certain gardening companies. If all I had to do was to watch over a lawn and some foundation shrubs, I’d be really depressed. The work involved would be so negative—always about cutting down, clipping back, killing bugs and weeds … mainly stopping things from happening and responding to perceived threats. It’s gardening by paranoia. In fact, I went on the Scotts site just now and found out about a lawn condition I’d never heard about before—“snow mold.” It’s always something.

And now Scotts Miracle-Gro has announced a new subsidiary company, Hawthorne, that is supposed to attract younger, urban consumers. The products are meant to cater to those who don’t do much lawn care, but still want “to live happier, healthier lives through gardening.” I guess, except for the “younger” part, that would be me. However, one of the two major brands that the new company is launching with is Aerogarden, those little George Foremans for plants. And once again, we’re back to the limitations, niche marketing that assumes that urban/small space customers want to garden in the most minimal sense of the word possible.

Most people consider my garden to be pretty small, but in my head it’s just the same as Sissinghurst or Hidcote, at least in terms of what I’d like to do with it. If I want to grow 9-feet-high native meadowland plants in a patio-sized plot, I can, and do. It’s nothing that any designer looking at my particular niche would advise. But it’s possible, and to me, gardening is about nothing less.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Snow mold…hahahahaha! I swear they make these things up to sell you another product! And that Aerogarden…straight out of The Jetson’s. Rosie is whining already!

    Oh the joys in gardening are in pushing the boundaries…what can I do next and where. Just one of the many differences between “gardening” and “landscaping.”

  2. But aerogardens do give you the chance to grow the world’s most expensive lettuce. I think I’ll stick with shop lights and mismatched pots

  3. I take particular pleasure in finding out that Scotts Miracle-Gro has chosen to name its new subsidiary after a 19th century author.

    Hawthorne, Nathaniel — author
    Hawthorn — plant

  4. Thanks for this. A garden does represent the possible! We need more of this, like the fill the internet with positivity thing (pictures of flowers and baby animals) to counter all the negativity. And I’ve got to hope that the young homeowner will be able to see through the chemical company marketing.

  5. Snowmold is real and quite common in places where lawns are buried for months at a time, like Minnesota and Iowa. Once the snow melts, you can have large, unsightly dead patches in your lawn. The bigger question, in my mind, is why I would want a lawn in the first place.

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