2012: Fads, fancies, and realities

A still image from the Farrner Pirates Kickstarter video. (It will not play.)

Admitted: I don’t pay as much attention to the gardening scene as those who actually make their living from it—designers, growers, retailers, full-time gardening writers. But maybe that’s a good thing, because for me to notice, a phenomenon has to achieve at least a dull roar. So here’s what caught my attention over the last year (or, OK, couple of years in many cases):

Digital delivery reaches critical mass. None of the components are new, but ebooks and digital magazines seem finally to be major players in the world of garden lit. The admirable Leaf passed its first year looking better than ever. As Amy points out, there are often fabulous deals on gardening e-books, and let’s face it—our shelves are becoming crowded. As for social media, the usefulness of belonging to garden-related Facebook groups is rarely debated. Pinterest? Not a fan, but really because I just don’t have time or need—it’s not dislike. I know very few people who aren’t pinning.

Cannabis growing becomes ever more respectable, depending on where you live. I imagine New York will be one of the next states to legalize, which will be great not just for pot growers but for those—like me—who are interested in better equipment for indoor gardening.

Everything is getting smaller. We’ve got dainty fairy gardens, exquisite miniature terrariums, mini-hostas, tiny succulents, wee air plants, and god knows what else. This is not my favorite trend. I need plants to be big and tall, and I have no personal affinity for the fairy gardens. Though I’ve seen some miniature gardens I’ve admired, I’ll probably never make one. I understand the appeal of miniaturization though—it increases your control. Everyone likes that.

Hipster gardeners. As demonstrated by the new journal Wilder Quarterly, gardening is being taken up by a generation who do it as part of a DIY lifestyle—kind of like my grandparents did. I didn’t get into gardening because I wanted to avoid the supermarket, but many of the younger gardeners I know did, including the Farmer Pirates group in Buffalo, who are colonizing Buffalo’s urban prairie.

Cocktails from the garden. No, it’s not just because of Amy’s forthcoming book, The Drunken Botanist. I started noticing lavender, basil, and honey in my drinks a few years back, and now it is a rare upscale restaurant that doesn’t offer at least one drink redolent of cucumbers or floral liquors. Drinking gets more and more interesting ever year. And that’s a good thing. After all, the reason I made my garden was to have a place to sit with a glass of wine.

Previous articlePlant Delights, Who ARE these People?
Next articleGet a Job: Anne Lerch, Vintner
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. Yup, I just keep doing what I do and sooner or later it will end up being cool again. Could I have predicted a few years that making your own pickles and pickled beets would be “cool”? Nope? Nowadays if you’re fermenting something, you’re a pretty hip cat.

  2. Your comment that everything is getting smaller is interesting. It seems to parallel the shrinking of housing–we are living in smaller and smaller spaces (the trend of tiny houses and 300 square foot apartments, for example); it follows that plants and gardens would shrink too. Is this a result of the recession? Growing population? A response to our over-consumption in the past? I don’t know.

  3. The trend I’m noticing–it’s not new, per se, but I always take awhile to notice these things–is all the books on homesteading, survival prep, etc. I realize this has been going on since Y2K, but they’ve practically got their own bookcase at the store now. Gardening-as-hedge-against-disaster does not seem to be slowing down.

    Maybe now that 2012 is behind us, they’ll stop publishing quite so many books on the topic. (Some of them are quite good books, of course, but others exude so much paranoia that I feel the urge to wash my hands…)

  4. I’d like to suggest a winter project for Garden Rant: finding and reviewing some of the new digital magaziines and what-not out there, beyond Leaf, which I know you’ve covered. Because we all enjoy a good garden drool in the winter.

    And, since digital knows no borders, I’d be particularly interested in hearing about things of note from outside the US.

    Happy New Year to all of you!

  5. A great re-cap of trends! I would say self-sufficiency and education is at the very top of the list, evidenced this year by the fact that we’re starting to demand quality food for our families (evidenced by the fight for GMO labeling which is not going away).

  6. Now that you mention it, I have had a few cucumber martinis lately. 🙂
    The proposition that legalization of marijuana will result in improved consumer agriculture tools is interesting.
    Thanks for jarring my thoughts in a good way.
    Teresa Marie

Comments are closed.