What’s in a decade? Plenty of gardening, for sure.

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2010 was the year 70 garden bloggers came to Buffalo and toured this lovely spot, among others.

There’s been a deluge of backward-looking articles and posts, so why should Rant be any different? Except that this will be, because I am too busy with my day job and side jobs (paid and unpaid) to go through a decade of Rant posts. Anyway, we did that when we celebrated our ten-year anniversary in 2016; that was definitely a highlight for us!

It is interesting to think about how the gardening discourse has changed over the past ten years, and, in some ways, our discussions on Rant provide some insight on what has changed. I did glance back at some 2010 posts and found some indication of what has changed most.

HOUSEPLANTS!
I was mocked or ignored, pretty much, whenever I posted about houseplants. In fact, one of my earliest Rant posts was a response to Amy Stewarts, “10 Reasons Why Houseplants Suck.” I, of course, had an equal number of reasons why houseplants rock.  I still think they rock, but, even though I have been buying more, I cannot begin to compete with the indoor plant craziness I see every day on social media. We all fondly imagined larger numbers of young people were getting into vegetable gardening ten years ago. Maybe they were (I doubt it), but the intensity was nothing like this.

Natives and pollinators
This, and many other debates, have not certainly not cooled down, but they have become more nuanced and, in many ways, more urgent. Nobody was saying pollinators weren’t important  then, but not as many were saying, “Just do it! Whatever it takes!” That’s what I am hearing now. In our local Facebook group, I now see just as many or more images of bees and butterflies as I do of flowers. We also have a lot of gardeners actively raising butterflies in the group.  And the urging for natives has become more reasoned—for the most part. It’s too important for all or nothing talk.

Lawn talk
I don’t really see these discussions as very heated anymore, though I could be wrong. People seem to be finding the middle ground—not focusing on resource-intensive maintenance and encroaching on lawns as an alternative to getting rid of them. My position hasn’t changed: didn’t have a lawn then, don’t now. And sadly, I am really just talking about gardeners who like to talk about gardening. I see no evidence that vast tracts of suburbia—where the definition of gardening is tidy landscaping—have given up on the mow-and-blow way of life. However, the spirit of compromise does not seem to rule when it comes to social media:

The rise of stupid memes; the decline of research and reason
I would love to stop lamenting this horrible development, but I can’t. Ten years ago, we talked, here and elsewhere. This blog would have 40, 60, maybe over 100 comments where people were reasonably, if passionately, discussing issues. Things change, of course, and now the online discourse is happening more on social media. But some kind of filter has been removed. Methods that have no scientific basis are simply spread everywhere and accepted by many, like this (but less grammatical): “Why, thanks for the advice! I’ll go out and get that Dawn dishwashing liquid and spray it today!” And disagreements get ballistic, fast. Just get off it? Can’t really; it’s part of my job and there are good things, like friendships and family.

I could say more. I could say that ten years ago we had people in Washington who were making change that would help, not harm, the natural environment. Oh, I did say it.

When I think about ten years in my personal gardening life, I wish I could say that I’ve learned and progressed, but I honestly do not think that’s the case. I make the same mistakes and spend about the same ridiculous amount of money. And I love it just as much, no more, no less. I am also glad to still be posting here, with five great partners.

I missed some big things, I am sure, so feel free to tell me in comments!

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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 regular 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

9 COMMENTS

  1. Okay…
    1. Out in the great big gardening world over the last few years, I see a lot more of “Six Big Trends to Follow in the Garden for 2020” or “Three Must-Haves in Your Garden”.

    2. I see a lot LESS tolerance for gardening opinions other than ones own. Gardeners seemed more mellow 10 years ago. I staunchly believe gardeners should be able to garden in the way that they want, even if it means they use chemicals, don’t adhere to scientific principles, or as one of my deceased neighbors was wont to do, placed ugly-in-my-opinion plastic skunks throughout her flower bed. Her skunks never hurt anyone, and they brought her joy. Why should it matter to us if she likes skunks or doesn’t adhere to the latest and greatest scientific knowledge? Let her be. At least people like her are gardening.

    3. I see more people staying passive when it comes to money-making development that covers big areas of land at the expense of nature in big cities (such as Austin, TX).

    4. I feel far more targeted (tracked) by on-line ads for garden-related stuff and guess what, I rarely buy any of it.

    • We have a good amount of protest here, not that Buffalo is Austin, but yes, I hear this about Nashville as well. Not just green space but also historic architecture going to the landfill without a murmur.

  2. Definitely it would be nicer if people would mind their manners, I was taught judge not lest be judged.
    any gardening is better than no gardening. I like natives, perennials and trees and believe me I know how important they are but I really love colorful annuals and guess what, so do pollinators. They are all important in the circle of life, yes even the plastic skunks.

  3. For me gardening is a time to get away from everyday use of technology: planting seeds, propagating cuttings, pulling weeds and puttering with my plants. Sharing seedlings and plants with fellow gardener’s is one of my favourite things to do. Hence, I find it a bit off-putting with the current trend towards ‘proprietary’ plant cultivars.

  4. Early in the decade, weeding relieved stress in an amazing way. Then pruning brought a zen centering. Now caring for houseplants is less stress relieving but still enjoyable. African Violets and rescued orchids nearly abloom. Gardening removes us from news, and notifications.

  5. This is a great summary. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. Mostly hate. It scares me how quickly a “mob” forms, but I love having easy access to beautiful garden photos. I’m that person… that buys garden magazines and usually NEVER reads the articles. Sorry.

    I think people are robbed of inspiration when they don’t see real garden photos. Like dead lawns in Michigan during August (because no one in their right mind would pay a $940 water bill). Or the fact Gravetye Manor wasn’t created in a day, or a decade for that matter. I garden because I love it. There are successes and failures, but it always gives me hope when plants survive “despite” my intervention. Gardening has shown me first hand, nature is one tough cookie!

  6. Times are certainly changing on the social media front. Even I remember, 10 year ago websites like this one were where most people interested in the similar things would go to speak with each other, and regularly visit. With the growth of social media, theres just so many outlets for people to engage with their hobby now. Some people prefer pictures and a visual experience (which is perfectly fine), and there just happen to be better places for people who want that sort of experience. I still prefer finding and becoming a poster on modern blogs as I prefer the long form content. It lends itself better to story telling in my opinion. Keep up the great work Elizabeth!

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