only three things were required to tend a garden: a pair of old shoes,
a pair of good gloves, and a humble attitude. Today, however, gardens have
become a status symbol with fancy tools and fancy plants.
Gardens have always reflected America's tastes. In Puritan days flowers
were considered wasteful, and in Depression days gardens sustained much
of the population.
During World War II, Victory gardens were said to improve the national
health, prevent juvenile delinquency, and help beat the enemy.
Now many people want a garden, but few people want to work in one. That
takes a big investment in equipment and products. Power gardeners want
it all, and they want it now. Americans spent more than $26 billion last
year on their gardens.
There has always been a touch of snobbery in gardening. People planted
old roses with good bloodlines and new high-tech roses named after each
Gardening author Michael Pollan says nature doesn't like gardens. Left
on its own, a yard will revert to forest, swamp, or meadow. But if you
are willing to do the work, a respectable garden can be had for very little.
The power gardening that brings forth expensive vegetables and flowers
has been said to bring families closer together and root them in the heartland.
And this gardener knows where to turn for information. Gardeners are twice
as likely as the general population to own a computer, and the depth of
information on the Internet is great.
Nurseries that used to stock 10 kinds of annuals now carry 30 or 40,
and more than 200 perennials. So fierce is the competition in some exclusive
areas that gardeners have been robbed not just of cuttings, but of whole
plants and shrubs.
To the gardeners of America, we say good luck and good hunting for your