Where have all the gardeners gone?

— Carson Arthur is an outdoor design and lifestyle expert and co-host of HGTV’s Critical Listing. For more information, visit http://www.carsonarthur.com

I was recently asked at a presentation why the ‘G’ in HGTV has almost completely disappeared. If you didn’t know, the ‘G’ stands for gardening and at one time there were plenty of television shows about planting, horticulture and design. Now they are all gone.

Even my new series really doesn’t talk about gardening although I do outdoor makeovers on it. It’s a bit of a challenge because as a hobby, gardening has been in decline. A decade ago, gardening was listed as the top hobby in Canada right next to bird watching. So what happened? Did that demographic die off? Why has gardening gone away and how do we get it back?
Back in its prime, anything with the word ‘garden’ in it was an instant moneymaker and we all know that money is what drives trends. Gardening doesn’t make money anymore. Gardening has been replaced with this concept of outdoor living.
It all started with the introduction of the ‘low maintenance’ backyard. Homeowners began to realize that they could have beautiful outdoor spaces without having to put a lot of work into them. It’s a bit sad, but today’s homeowner would rather pay to get exercise at the gym wearing fashionable workout wear than get sweaty in their own backyards creating something beautiful.
As an industry, landscaping has taken off because of this. Landscape designers and installers create these stunning low-maintenance spaces for homeowners who want to enjoy the outdoors but prefer to leave the gardening to someone else.
Now I don’t believe that this is the only reason for the change in our outdoor habits, but it is definitely a big one. I actually feel bad because I’ve been a part of it for so long.
Creating the perfect backyards for magazines and television shows has been my life for the last 12 years. I have shown Canadians backyard renovations that would be almost impossible for them to do without professional help. So how do I help you get back to basics in your outdoor space?
The good news is that the move is already on. With new research coming out every day on chemicals in our food and the affects of GMOs, homeowners with a little outdoor space have bought into the idea of growing their own healthy food. This driving a new movement called GIY (Grow It Yourself).
Now homeowners are growing food in containers, starting vegetable gardens and paying attention to what is going on in the backyard. We are also seeing increased participation in local gardening clubs all across the country, with homeowners wanting to improve their own spaces.
My new job is to continue to help this movement with information and beautiful inspirational pictures. I want to get people addicted to gardening again. It also doesn’t hurt that scientists have found that inhaling the naturally occurring bacteria in soil has similar effects to taking Prozac!
After a long absence in the media, who knew that gardening would be the new fix!
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