I attended an interesting presentation last night by Brian Minter from Minter Gardens in Chilliwack, BC. His talk was about taking our gardens to a higher level. When I saw the title I assumed it meant having luxury plants in our garden but I was wrong. He talked about the garden industry and how it has done over the last few decades. In the 80′s and 90′s there was tremendous growth but when the year 2000 arrived the industry flatlined. So why would that happen? We only have to look around us to see what is happening. The yards are getting smaller and there is more and more densification. I have four children and all but one live in either a basement suite or a condo. Do they have room to garden? Hardly. Maybe a tiny balcony or a small green space they can call their own. Long gone are the big yards that we have become accustomed to. As larger homes are being sold, many are coming down to make way for more than one home on that same piece of land.
Lets get back to the new generation of gardeners. I look at my children who range from 22-36 and I talked to them about what they would grow in their little spaces. It wasn’t flowers, it was food. My daughter in law said “Anything I can grow to make a salad”. She also said that being able to be out and tend her small garden was therapeutic after a stressful day at work. So the new gardens of today are ones that can soothe the soul, create a feeling of wellness. It was interesting as I remembered from the talk last night that Brian Minter had shown us a slide from South Africa. At the garden centers there, they also had wellness centers. Not only could you buy plants but you could enjoy a relaxing spa while you were there. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Will we see that here some day? Only time will tell.
Brian also showed us a myriad of great plants but stressed that instead of just planting them, we should be creating art in our garden. He stresses little vignettes, a place to take a coffee in the morning. He showed us the plants that are being grown for the new generation of gardeners, from dyed and glittered ornamental kale to complete colour bulb kits for an instant garden . Yes, we live in a world that wants instant gratification. Our new generation has room for limited pants so they want to buy something that will create conversation. Perhaps a funky contorted plant or something with fragrance to plant in a container.
I sat back thinking about our garden club. Our membership has been declining for several years. As president a few years ago, I expressed the need to attract the new generation of gardeners. I knew it had to be done. When I asked if the club had a website, they said no. Of course, this social media addict couldn’t believe it. For one thing if we want to attract the children of today we need to be online. We need to as connected as they are to the various forms of media that they constantly employ. So what did I do? That year I started a Facebook page for the garden club. Eyes rolled when I told them as the blue rinse crowd just doesn’t get it. So fast forward a couple of years and we are still not attracting young members. They may be connecting online but they don’t go to meetings.It’s sad to say but I see the future of garden clubs on the decline much like many service clubs.The young people of today still want to garden but not in this way.
The talk last night was in one way very timely for our garden club. I hope they took away the message that Brian gave us. I know I did. How does your garden club fare? What do you do to attract younger members? I cringe when I think I am one of the youngest garden club members at (cough, cough) 58.