Men In The Garden
by Rob Sproule
As both a garden writer and a Garden Centre owner, I pay a lot of attention to who is gardening. Even as I write this, I know (sorry, guys), that the majority of people reading it will be women.
Traditionally, women have called the shots in the garden. They choose the colours, plan the combinations, and often the men come in to do the grunt work. Based on a 2012 poll from The Telegraph ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/9269718/Men-do-the-grunt-work-in-the-garden-while-women-do-the-colours.html ) most men happily cede the garden based decision making to their mates, believing them to have better taste, and do their share via pruning, mowing, and other heavy work.
That being said, we’re in the midst of a seismic demographic shift. “Baby Boomers”, whether because they’re downsizing, snow-boarding, or for health reasons, are gardening less. “Xers”, who are becoming establishing with families of their own, have begun eagerly getting their hands dirty.
Most recently, “Millennials” (aged 30 and under), have become more passionate about gardening than any generation in recent memory. In all these generations, but most particularly Millennials, men are taking up the shovel and getting into the garden more than any other group.
A Growing Trend
In its much anticipated annual trends report, U.S. based Garden Media Group identified young men getting into the garden as one of 2016 hottest new trends. From my vantage point at the front lines of the gardening world, I’ve watched the stigma of gardening being a boring, “old-person” past-time to being hip, fresh, and able to perpetually re-invent itself.
The stigma has largely been lifted thanks to a change in what we want from our gardens. The tectonic growth of the grow-your-own-food movement has fueled awareness of healthier eating, the importance of backyard sustainability, and the value of getting kids into the garden. In other words, gardening has gone from boring to hip, and Millennials are getting engaged in unprecedented ways. Most of them aren’t growing flowers, however. Sales of edible seeds, including organics and edibles, have exploded in the past few years. As young parents become more aware of what their kids are eating, they’re often choosing to grow their own family edibles.
Eating and Drinking the Yard
Grilling has gone from hamburgers to art form and, as grillers continue to innovate, fresh ingredients are becoming mandatory. Whether baked potatoes stuffed with dill, rosemary kabobs or home-grown grilled tomatoes, more men are growing grilling-specific herbs and veggies to add to their craft.
The phrase “drink your yard” has become a staple of garden trend articles in recent years (and garden geeks like me read a lot of them). As more people, and predominantly men, are making their own wine and brewing their own beer than ever before, its become increasingly popular to grow grapes and hops in the yard. The plants, especially hops, are easy to grow, attractive and, although it takes a lot of grapes to make a batch of wine, you can’t beat the “street cred” of growing your own booze!