Are we educating people to love plants?
"I like your enthusiasm, Fanny. It is a lovely night, and they are much to be pitied who have not been taught to feel, in some degree, as you do; who have not, at least, been given a taste for Nature in early life. They lose a great deal." from 'Mansfield Park'
We're living in a period of low enthusiasm for gardening...so I hear, and I believe it. So, why?
Smaller yards, or no yards; people are busier; people are poorer; there are abundant entertainment alternatives: who remembers the era of no computer and three channels on the television, two of them with poor reception?
People also have less contact with plants and with the natural world than they used to. Fewer people live in or close to the country. Suburban neighborhoods vary considerably, I would guess: some rich in gardens and plant variety, others regimented and relatively sterile. Schools don't help, at least, not here in Italy. I remember Marianne saying that schoolchildren in Sweden learn the common wild plants of their area. Here they study biology, but never a word about the native flora. DD, certainly not a shining light when it comes to botany or horticulture, says she knows more about plants than any of her high school classmates, and I believe it. She is one of the few, perhaps the only, person in her class who lives in the country.
The media are supersaturated with stories about the digital age, technology, and entertainment, and allow room for, at most, one modest column on gardening or plants. Considerable attention does go to such issues as climate change, but it doesn't seem to get down to such nuts-and-bolts issues as what grows and how to grow it.
Part of the problem on the level of communications is that plants and gardening are highly local. They don't lend themselves to globalization. A South Korean rapper can produce a video that becomes a world-wide hit, but the plants I grow in the shade garden don't necessarily work in the sunny garden a hundred yards away. In fact this is part of the importance, as well as the charm, of gardening: that it can't be done--done well--with industrial methods.
These are some of my thoughts on the subject; what do you think?