Are Ugly Gardens a Feminist Issue?

The garden blogosphere is aflame with arguments about this post from Robin on Garden Rant. Her argument basically is that ugly vegetable gardens give gardening a bad name, and gardeners should clean up their act — or at least their vegetable patch.

I’m not sure how to respond to this. I love a good-looking ornamental garden. Northern Gardener profiles at least one fantastic garden in every issue, and I have tried hard to keep at least part of my own yard looking good. (Operative word: Tried.) But, hey, no one’s perfect. Life intervenes. People get sick. Jobs get busy. Or, in this economy, jobs disappear. Children need extra attention, or parents do, or spouses, or maybe some weekends, you just need to ride your bike or do something other than weed. And, not every gardener has the cash to invest in artwork or fancy pots or a designer to help them figure out what looks good.

After reading Robin’s post and a few of the responses, I could not help but wonder if this whole ugly garden debate smacks of rivalry among women, a pervasive, really tiresome force in our society. Gardening is largely (though certainly not entirely) a female sport. And, the vast majority of garden bloggers are women. Is this the old cool girls vs. nerds, stay-at-home moms vs. working mothers, Sandy vs. Rizzo deal? Oh, please, say it is not.

In solidarity with the ugly gardeners, I’m posting a photo of one of my less attractive garden ideas. (If I were at my other computer, I’d have some really unattractive photos to post.) Growing food is a feminist issue, as this recent book argues.  But it has nothing to do with how attractive your vegetable patch looks.

A New Gig

I’m just starting a new online gig as the Minneapolis Gardening Examiner for Examiner.com. I’m still figuring out how this will work with my other activities and this blog, but generally the examiner site will be more event- and news-oriented and more Twin Cities-oriented, while the blog will continue to be about plants, garden experiments, and local observations. Take a peek and let me know what you think.