Gardening is Much in the News


Lately I’ve seen an uptick in gardening mentions in the news, and the one above has to be my favorite headline of all. Then the article begins:

Home gardening solves everything. This is the finding of a Princeton study published in that media hotbed Landscape and Urban Planning. The study’s press release notes that home gardening is “largely overlooked by policymakers.”

And the conclusion for planners?

[The researcher] points out that home gardening contributes to livable city and quality food initiatives. Why spend money on a rec center when some dirt and a trowel will do the trick? Plant on.

The “four key takeaways” in the study, as reported in Science Direct:

  • Household gardening is associated with high-EWB [emotional well-being], which is similar to Biking and Walking.
  • Vegetable gardening is associated with higher EWB than ornamental gardening.
  • Household gardening is the only activity, in this study, where women and low-income participants report higher EWB than men and medium/high-income participants respectively.
  • Gardening at home alone is no different from gardening with company. [So, gardening with others had no effect on the EWB results.]

So what about the veg-growing produces higher emotional well-being than growing ornamentals? The researchers surmise that “The additional importance of producing food or maintaining a connection to a larger identity, such as the identity linked to producing one’s own food, may play a role in the higher EWB scores for vegetable gardeners.” Okay.

And this is interesting – that unlike walking, biking and eating out, which were found to produce greater emotional well-being in men and higher-income people,”Gardening is an outlier activity in the sense that being low-income and female does not appear to lower one’s net affect scores while engaging in gardening, as is the case with other activities.”

Speaking of inclusivity, years ago I ranted about stock images of gardeners that perpetuated the myth in this country that gardeners are mostly old, white and female. But look what a recent search for “gardener” in Google Images yielded – a big improvement!

More Gardening Stories

Of course that Princeton study is from the Before Times. Now the pandemic shutdown has led to greater than usual coverage of gardening’s benefits. Like this article from Lincoln, Nebraska, “Experts say there are benefits to gardening during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Parks, too. “The need for parks: In a time of sickness, we all need to take a breath.”

The increase in actual gardening during the shutdown is getting lots of coverage, especially if they’re “victory gardens.”

As important as vegetable gardens are – now more than ever! – half the nongardeners I know have started planting things that can’t be eaten – trees, shrubs, and pollinator plants, mostly. So I’m curious whether our buying habits have changed, or if the media are just looking for a hook.

In other publishing news, with photo shoots impossible during the shutdown, Vogue Magazine put a single rose on its latest cover. They wrote that it represents “a symbol of “beauty, hope, and reawakening.”

Sure, why not? Especially now, with roses reaching their peak around here.

On the bad-news side, we’re seeing stories like these:

“Where Have 140 Million Dutch Tulips Gone? Crushed by the Coronavirus” in the New York Times.

And “Local florists left with inventory they can’t sell amid non-essential business shutdown.”

I’ll sign off now, having cleared my in-box of potential Rant posts with those stories. I’m staying safe and sane here in Maryland, and gardening my ass off.

Also, having fun riding my bike all over town visiting gardens and inviting the gardeners to contribute to a Virtual Spring Garden Tour – my latest project.


  1. Fascinating stuff – I will definitely be sharing this with all my urban planning friends – one of whom argued with me that “no one ever needs a yard” and “that gardening is selfish.” He is for shared public park space only and against community gardens on park property. We all know he is dead wrong, but with this post I will tell him “in your face!”

  2. I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin and never really had the thought that gardeners were predominantly old white women. Quite the opposite actually, most gardeners in my life were old white men. Interesting! Nice article, thanks.

  3. Very interesting article and I have to admit I agree in the sense that gardening can help with our mental well-being. I often enjoy spending a couple of hours on the weekend tending to my garden, it gives me a chance to focus on nothing but whats in front of me. Quite meditative.

  4. I have to say the research findings is quite interesting, and some of those I have personal experience with them. I’ve also seen many of my neighbors and clients either started or expanded their vegetable and/or flower gardens this year. I personally expanded my vegetable garden due to the ever increasing of organic fresh produce pricing in grocery store lately…

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