Are Images of Gardeners in the Media Finally Improving?

Gardeners in the play “Native Gardens”

My recent rant about stereotypes of gardeners in a new play got me thinking about the images of gardeners used in advertising and elsewhere. The garden-club-competing gardeners in the play typify the demographic so often used to portray us – white and elderly.


More of the same can be found by searching “gardener” at istockphoto, where these images of older women especially bug me because they convey the surprising (to all real gardeners) impression that gardening is about fussing over flowers. You and I know that gardening requires hard work – digging, hauling, and wrestling branches with pruning tools.

Thankfully, iStock’s offerings include more diversity than just older white women.

On Google image there are plenty of young people and quite a bit of pruning going on.

Searching “gardener” on Shutterstock yields mostly super-fake images of gardens and just a few actual people, most of them young.

Pexel’s gardener images are even stranger, starting with their three top results: woman with lavender, man with monstrous leaf-blower, and a green ball.

With that bit of research, I realize that representations of gardeners as old white people snipping flowers can’t be blamed on stock photo companies, because they DO offer other choices.

The good news is the arrival of an real alternative – Boys with Plants on Instagram! Whether they’re gardeners or not, who cares?


  1. You’re right, Mary.

    Just another example of people dissing FLOWERS.

    PS: I’m old and getting whiter — and less flowerly — as I work in my shady North Florida yard.

  2. My favorite depiction of a gardener on tv right now is Nova on Queen Sugar. Several scenes have taken place in her backyard garden in the 9th ward of New Orleans, where she grows vegetables, ornamentals, and medicinal herbs. It is so subtle, I had not given it much thought until I saw your post.

  3. Wow, you got some interesting responses. I thought it was a fun post! Hadn’t really thought about what “images” are out there for generic use.

  4. When people find out I am a professioal / gardener designer at a party..their eyes light up and often say they wished they could do this as a job, then as conversatio goes on, I am realizing they think my job is akin to tip toeing through the tulips and have no idea of the hard work.. that being said that blower on a hunky guy pic represents a fresher view of gardening -that is pretty clueless.. as far as gardening .. most blowers are used by ‘mow and blow outfits’ .. housecleaners for the outside.. that is not gardening. And most blowers are outlawed but its never enforced .. besides real gardeners rake… 🙂

  5. Also, all those female gardeners have immaculate makeup and are grinning from ear to ear because they’re just having the time of their lives. Clearly their gardens require no digging whatsoever.

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