2012: Fads, fancies, and realities by Elizabeth Licata

A still image from the Farrner Pirates Kickstarter video. (It will not play.)

Admitted: I don’t pay as much attention to the gardening scene as those who actually make their living from it—designers, growers, retailers, full-time gardening writers. But maybe that’s a good thing, because for me to notice, a phenomenon has to achieve at least a dull roar. So here’s what caught my attention over the last year (or, OK, couple of years in many cases):

Digital delivery reaches critical mass. None of the components are new, but ebooks and digital magazines seem finally to be major players in the world of garden lit. The admirable Leaf passed its first year looking better than ever. As Amy points out, there are often fabulous deals on gardening e-books, and let’s face it—our shelves are becoming crowded. As for social media, the usefulness of belonging to garden-related Facebook groups is rarely debated. Pinterest? Not a fan, but really because I just don’t have time or need—it’s not dislike. I know very few people who aren’t pinning.

Cannabis growing becomes ever more respectable, depending on where you live. I imagine New York will be one of the next states to legalize, which will be great not just for pot growers but for those—like me—who are interested in better equipment for indoor gardening.

Everything is getting smaller. We’ve got dainty fairy gardens, exquisite miniature terrariums, mini-hostas, tiny succulents, wee air plants, and god knows what else. This is not my favorite trend. I need plants to be big and tall, and I have no personal affinity for the fairy gardens. Though I’ve seen some miniature gardens I’ve admired, I’ll probably never make one. I understand the appeal of miniaturization though—it increases your control. Everyone likes that.

Hipster gardeners. As demonstrated by the new journal Wilder Quarterly, gardening is being taken up by a generation who do it as part of a DIY lifestyle—kind of like my grandparents did. I didn’t get into gardening because I wanted to avoid the supermarket, but many of the younger gardeners I know did, including the Farmer Pirates group in Buffalo, who are colonizing Buffalo’s urban prairie.

Cocktails from the garden. No, it’s not just because of Amy’s forthcoming book, The Drunken Botanist. I started noticing lavender, basil, and honey in my drinks a few years back, and now it is a rare upscale restaurant that doesn’t offer at least one drink redolent of cucumbers or floral liquors. Drinking gets more and more interesting ever year. And that’s a good thing. After all, the reason I made my garden was to have a place to sit with a glass of wine.

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