We’re Not Normal (opinion)

Robin Siktberg

I am an unusual person, perhaps even a bit odd. I say this because by age 14, or maybe even earlier, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be an editor of a horticultural magazine. And, somehow, by a path that involved some twists and turns, I actually am.

I’m also unusual because I was gardening as a child and loved it, and with the exception of a small break during college when I owned no outdoor space, not even a balcony, I have always grown plants. And even then, I had houseplants.

I have always known that my passion for plants is stronger than that of the average consumer. By virtue of the fact that you are a greenhouse grower, operator, or are in some other way associated with this industry, chances are your interest in plants goes beyond the norm, too. So it’s important that we step outside of ourselves and listen to what “normal” people think about gardening and buying plants. That’s especially true for the Gen Y group we are all so concerned about in terms of our industry’s future.

When I was in my twenties, I was the only one of my friends who gardened or even thought about plants at all. Flash forward to today, and we are all homeowners and parents, and I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked for gardening advice. My friends are all more than interested in plants now — and they’re spending money.
So I was surprised when our assistant editor, Karli Petrovic, who also works for our sister retail magazine, Today’s Garden Center, stirred up a small firestorm of controversy when she wrote a column about why she and her generation are not gardening yet.

In her column, “Why I’m Not Gardening and No One Else My Age is Either,” Karli pointed out that she and her friends are not gardening for a number of reasons, including lack of time, money and space. She said her generation is more focused right now on building careers than buying plants, but said to give them time.

Several readers objected, saying they knew young people who garden— how could Karli speak for a whole generation? One reader said, “Really don’t understand their attitude. To me, coming home to water plants or garden was a stress-reliever when I was in my 20s.”

All of us could point to someone in their twenties who gardens. But is that the point? Those people, as much as we appreciate them, are not the norm for their age group.
Karli’s full opinion and all of the comments, both positive and negative, can be found at TodaysGardenCenter.com. And for those who find yourself upset with her honesty, I encourage you to sit back for a moment and listen, even if what you hear is uncomfortable. I believe she speaks for the majority of her generation, and we bury our heads in the sand at our peril. We need to find ways, even on a small scale, to appeal to people like her, who are not quite there, but will be soon. Because we’re not normal. They are.

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “We’re Not Normal (opinion)

  1. It is not her opinion that was disturbung, it is the fact she writes articles for the green industry…kind of a joke for Greenhouse Grower, in my opinion. Does she have any actual horticultural experience to validate her writing for a trade magazine?

  2. If you really want to see a shock, take a good look at our industry and see the ages of the folks in our industry and who is up and coming. I think you will see a gap between 25-40(?), sure there are a few of us, but not many of my friends I started in this industry with are still in the industry. I moved to sales when I saw I would have hard time making it ($) as a grower unless I started my own business. There is not much you can do about it, just realize it is going on good or bad.

  3. Speaking from experience, both as a retailer and as a member of Generation X, not only is Karli right, but Robin is right for emphasizing it. Yes, we all know twentysomethings who love to garden. Yes, we all know twentysomethings who get relaxation from watering their plants. I also know that these stand out because they're relatively rare. The emphasis on career over gardening is very valid, which is why we have to keep working on offering low-maintenance solutions for the individuals who have maybe one day per week to expend on their gardens or yards. We also have to remember that we're competing against so many distractions, many of them worthy and even laudable, that aren't so much of an issue when we get older. (Me, I got into serious gardening when I was 22, and I was an absolute freak among friends and co-workers who couldn't see why I'd waste my time on any plant that wasn't either immediately edible or smokable.) Most of all, we'd best listen, because the current arrogance I keep hearing in the plant trade, effectively acting as if these darn kids should get with the program and get off our lawns, will be a major dissuader from gardening in the future. I'm 46, and I still instinctively stay away from venues that treated me with disdain and vitriol when I was 22, as do a lot of my contemporaries, and the best way to guarantee that our kids will stay away from gardening is to be both dismissive and patronizing as to their needs from gardening right now.

Latest Stories
Marijuana-Company-of-America-Cannabis-Greenhouse-Photo

May 24, 2018

New Cannabis Greenhouse in Washington Nears Completion

Once the Marijuana Company of America’s new 30,000 square-foot facility is fully built, it will have the ability to house approximately 4,000 plants.

Read More
Collegiate-Plant-Initiative

May 23, 2018

Collegiate Plant Initiative Helps Foster a Love of Plan…

CPI offers a unique perspective of the plant world, with the goal of connecting college students with exciting plants and teaching them more about opportunities in the plant industry.

Read More
Iron-Chlorosis-in-Hydrangea-feature

May 23, 2018

How Low Substrate pH Can Cause Lower Leaf Chlorosis

Geraniums grown in substrates below an optimal pH range will exhibit chlorotic leaf spotting between veins, interveinal chlorosis, and marginal and leaf necrosis of the lower foliage.

Read More
Irrigation-feature

May 23, 2018

Why Your Irrigation Water Affects Your Media pH

Irrigation water that is alkaline contains bicarbonates, and as crops are irrigated over time, these bicarbonates will increase media pH.

Read More
Little-Leaf-Farms-New-Greenhouse

May 22, 2018

Little Leaf Farms Expands Its Indoor Baby Greens Produc…

The Massachusetts-based company has increased the size of its greenhouses to 5 acres, more than doubling its annual production of baby greens.

Read More
Biocontrols in a Greenhouse

May 22, 2018

Register Now for Award-Winning Online Greenhouse Growin…

Learn about production cost and profit, as well as the basic behind plant science, via two online classes being offered by the University of Florida.

Read More
Brownley-Visit-to-Sun-Valley-Group

May 21, 2018

Insights From Lawmaker’s Visit to a Top 100 Greenhouse …

When Rep. Julia Brownley of California visited Sun Valley Group, she got a firsthand look at a very busy time in the life of a flower grower.

Read More
Oasis-Root-Cubes-Retail-Pack

May 20, 2018

Smithers-Oasis Now Offering Rootcubes Foam Media in Ret…

Designed with smaller or hobby growers in mind, the Rootcubes packs are also ideal for larger growers to use for trials.

Read More
Westerlay-Orchids-School-Donation

May 19, 2018

Westerlay Orchids Shows Its Support for Local Schools

Proceeds from all sales the company made during the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour will be donated to fund STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) programs.

Read More

May 18, 2018

Five Education Tracks Set for IGC Show

The event will feature topics such as online sales, store renovations, and more.

Read More
Ian Baldwin

May 17, 2018

Ian Baldwin: Why the Rise of the Under 35s Will Help Yo…

In his latest blog, garden retail consultant Ian Baldwin says this new generation of plant buyers is seriously engaged in gardening, and is using social media to help become successful plant owners.

Read More
Perennial-Plant-Symposium

May 16, 2018

2018 Perennial Plant Symposium Offering Power to the Pe…

Perennial and gardening enthusiasts of all experience levels are invited to attend plant discussions on Monday, July 30 for a chance to hear from the best in the field on a range of topics.

Read More
ISO-Group-Transplanter-feature

May 15, 2018

Floriculture’s Future Hangs in the Balance Between Labo…

The nation’s largest growers are investing heavily in technology, new structures, human resources, and efficiency measures to stay competitive and profitable, despite significant labor shortages.

Read More
Gotham-Greens

May 15, 2018

Gotham Greens Expanding Greenhouse Production Into Balt…

Scheduled to open in early 2019, Gotham Greens’ Baltimore facility will bring a reliable, year-round, local supply of fresh produce to serve retail, restaurant, and foodservice customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Read More
Growing Innovations conference and tradeshow logo

May 14, 2018

Growing Innovations Geared to Connect Specialty Ag With…

Innovation abounds in agriculture, yet it can feel sometimes as if the gap between exciting new developments and what growers actually need in their operations can be awfully wide. We at Meister Media Worldwide intend to help narrow this gap. Which is why we’re pleased to introduce Growing Innovations – an altogether new type of event that will debut Nov. 7-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Unlike most agricultural events and trade shows, Growing Innovations is not about technology per se, nor is it about everyday issues that growers face. Instead, this new conference and tradeshow is very acutely solutions oriented. It takes as its starting point specialty crop growers’ most pressing real-world challenges – production efficiency, labor and water shortages, logistics, and data management to name just a few – and showcases advances, both current and up-and-coming, that have the greatest potential to bring […]

Read More
Botrytis-Symptoms-feature

May 12, 2018

Fungicide Resistance in Botrytis is an International Ch…

Clemson University’s research team is exploring Botrytis in cut roses to find out how to help you maintain postharvest crop quality by avoiding fungicide resistance.

Read More
Miscanthus-Bandwidth EmeraldCoastGrowers

May 11, 2018

New Sterile Ornamental Grasses One Solution to Grass In…

Aggressive grass species can turn gardeners off to using ornamental grasses. Less fertile alternatives offer options for keeping grasses from taking over the garden.

Read More

May 10, 2018

Beekenkamp Plants Acquires Sunny Osteospermum Breeding …

Beekenkamp took over all Sunny Holland sales activities in 2017, and now has ownership of the company’s entire breeding program.

Read More