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Report From PIA – April 22

A series of emails from the ANLA (American Nursery and Landscape Association) and a talk that I gave at Sullivan Renaissance have me thinking about growing the Gardening Tribe. How to better get people excited about plants and gardens?

Sullivan Renaissance is doing a fantastic job at this, while at the same time beautifying and uniting a community. Tonight I spoke at their spring festival where they announced the grants that will help Sullivan County residents plant gardens, improve signage, and create community vegetable gardens, to name just a few approved projects.

This non-profit not only helps to fund planting proposals, which beautify their communities, but the recipients compete for prize money as well. Interns are assigned to large projects, which helps those who are planting/maintaining, and gets young people involved with the gardens.

The ANLA also wants to get their members, professionals in the horticulture biz, excited about plants so that they will pass their enthusiasm on to the general public. Playing off the American Idol program on TV, they ask their members to vote for a Garden Idol, with a different grower presented each week.

My response to this lighthearted presentation was pretty cranky. Although I’ve calmed enough to realize that yes, the ANLA is making an effort to get everyone animated about gardening with a limited budget, the real connections and results that an organization like Sullivan Renaissance produces makes a TV parody look pretty frivolous and ineffective.

Yet given a restricted budget, and who doesn’t have limited resources these days, how do we who care about gardening spread our enthusiasm? How to capture people’s attention when everyone is pulled in so many directions? How to convince people that something that takes work, and has an element of uncertainty to it, is worth doing?

I have no quick answers, but I intend to think about this at some length. But for now, the Sullivan Renaissance group is my Garden Idol without question.

Whether it's a large garden or a few well-planted pots, flowers bring beauty and joy to everyone who sees them. They are gifts to ourselves and each other.

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