While gardening is often viewed as a classic, homespun activity, it is as shaped by trends and fashions just as much as clothing, home decor, or music. Ed Lyon, director of the Allen Centennial Gardens at the University of Wisconsin and a frequent garden lecturer and author, helped Master Gardeners pick through demographic data and trends during Friday’s Midwest Regional Master Gardener Conference.
He noted two big trends: Baby Boomers are getting old and the generations behind them are not as tuned into gardening as a hobby, at least not if it involves much work. These folks, the oldest of whom are in their mid-40s, are financially burdened with big houses and mortgages and want low to no-maintenance gardens because they work all the time, and in their off-hours they go to kids’ soccer games. They want gardens that are great for hosting BBQs, but don’t require much weeding or pruning. The gardens these busy people prefer often look more like a patio with yard attached, boasting several thousand dollars worth of furniture and an extremely cool pot with a single tropical plant in it.
The second big trend, which seems paradoxical in some ways, is that the so-called Generations X and Y are very concerned about health and food, which is leading to an increased interest in growing vegetables. Will this translate into more vegetable gardens or just more shoppers at Farmers’ Markets? Either one is a good trend in my book.