by Penny Esseltine
Television personality, speaker, landscaper and gardener Carson Arthur visited Tillsonburg this week to address an enthusiastic gathering of both young and experienced gardening enthusiasts at Tillsonburg Garden Gate. Arthur is a friend of Garden Gate owners Matt and Linda Fenn. It’s Arthur’s contention that the number of true gardeners (those who share interests in things like planting to attract hummingbirds, creating winter interest in gardens, growing multi-coloured perennial gardens, large varieties of plants and flowers, and such) have been on the decline for a decade or more. Professional landscaping has taken over the places and spaces no longer filled by gardeners.
Carson Arthur presents to enthusiastic gardeners (Photo courtesy of Shelley Imbeault)
“Everyone has a landscaper,” Arthur says. We’re filling outdoor spaces with immense concrete patios and decks, water features, fountains, luxurious outdoor rooms, large furniture, and repetitive plantings. Plantings that require minimal maintenance for maximum impact are popular and stocked in huge quantities in big box stores. Containers for plants are popular. When a plant dies you can pop it out and put in a new one. Low maintenance is key.
Arthur says that true gardening is really a lot of work. True gardening involves identifying and choosing to grow many varieties of plants and flowers in different environments and helping them to survive and thrive. A wider variety of perennial and annual plants can most commonly be sourced in local gardens centres and nurseries.
Using today’s demographics Arthur says it’s the Baby Boomers (60 somethings) who are gravitating toward low maintenance spaces and outdoor rooms, even outdoor TV sets. Full landscapes with plants are just too much work.
Generation X (40-50 somethings) don’t want to do the back-breaking work that large gardens require. They’re looking for outdoor escapes, often with price tags exceeding hundreds of thousands of dollars. He says elaborate barbecues in outdoor kitchens can commonly cost $25,000 plus.
The future for gardening is in the hands of the Millennial generation (20 to 30 somethings). Men and women in this age group make up about 25 per cent of the population and gardening is their number one hobby. Millennials are looking to understand what attracts butterflies and bees to our gardens and to learn how to design and grow beautiful spaces. Vegetable gardens are must-haves in their backyards.
If there is hope for gardening making a comeback it will come by way of Millennials and their children. They’re looking for balance between beautiful outdoor places and the plants that make them look fantastic.
Arthur cautions that we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture. We need to love gardening for what it contributes to our homes and our lives, and how it can impact the world and the lives of those around us.
Tillsonburg Garden Gate is generously donating half of the proceeds of the Carson Arthur event to the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society to support our gardening work in the community.
Tillsonburg Garden Gate staff with Carson Arthur. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Imbeault)