|This is it. I have no lawn.|
Well, in the USA it's hard to think of it in any other way, isn't it? Just check iTunes for garden podcasts, or any media directory. What category do you find "gardening" in?
I was listening to Ken Druse's Real Dirt podcast recently. I always enjoy Ken's podcasts, especially his interviews. Last week he talked to Bart Ziegler, gardening columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Ziegler's is a thoroughly enjoyable gardening column, far superior, in fact, to most available in US media. I like the guy, so please don't think this is an attack on him, or on Ken.
But at the end of the interview, Ziegler's closing remarks just set my teeth on edge. Well, actually, it started earlier. Ziegler talked about his "yard," not about his "garden." Not a mortal sin, I suppose, but so revealing about American attitudes toward gardening.
Okay, the offending words that set me off:
"Learn to relax. It's only a garden. This is not brain surgery. It's supposed to be a hobby, it's supposed to be enjoyable, and if you end up driving yourself crazy, it's neither of those..."
In context, there's nothing wrong with this, I agree. But in the US, it's come to be almost the only acceptable attitude toward gardening. We mow our lawns (we all have lawns, don't we?), we spray Roundup on the dandelions, we grow native plants if we're of a certain political persuasion, we grow vegetables to feed ourselves (the newest widely condoned fad), we may even weed if we're "serious" gardeners. Hell, we may even sit and take pleasure in our yards (or gardens ... but most of us think using the word "garden" may be pretentious).
There's far more to it than this. Gardening has a long and illustrious history--thousands of years--as a very important part of human culture, often as the place for practice or contemplation of spirituality, aesthetics, philosophy (the "good life"), even politics--yet our culture relegates it to the "hobby" category. What happened?
Can anything be done? If you're interested, take a look at this website: thinkinGardens. The people here are at least trying to change things. The site is British, of course, but gardening is much more highly valued there than here. So take it where you can get it.