The Future of Gardening
By Paul James
Since the middle of March, I’ve driven a whopping 27 miles — two trips to my 96-year-old dad’s assisted living center (he likes his wine), two trips to the liquor store pick-up window (like father, like son), and one trip to Southwood for some gardening essentials. Other than that, I’ve been working from home, answering questions on our website’s chat line, among other things. And the chats have given me hope for the future of gardening.
Why? Because of the incredible number of newbies I’ve chatted with who are eager to get into gardening. Most are willing to admit that they know next to nothing about plants, but clearly want to learn all they can. And their primary interest is in vegetables and herbs, which is precisely how I got interested in gardening over 40 years ago.
I’ve always thought of growing vegetables and herbs as the gateway to gardening, a sort of evolutionary starting point. It’s relatively inexpensive to get started, you don’t need an established garden if you grow in containers, and the rewards are both immediate and tasty. But most of all, it’s not that hard to be successful at it.
And with success comes confidence. And with confidence comes a desire to learn more.
That desire can send a young gardener in different directions. For me, it was shade gardening first, where I discovered the wonderful world of Japanese maples, yews, ferns, hostas, and toad lilies. Next it was ornamental grasses, which I fell in love with because of their ease of care and versatility in the landscape. Then it was shrubs, especially Viburnums, oakleaf Hydrangeas, Fothergilla, and Virginia sweetspire. And in the last 20 years or so, conifers and bonsai have been my jam.
So what about now? Well, now I spend most of my time growing vegetables and herbs. I’ve come full circle, and the journey has been a joy. I hope today’s young gardeners have the same experience. I’m pretty sure they will.
Happy gardening, ya’ll.
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