PHOTO: The Takoma Park Horticultural Club in the Independence Day Parade, July 4, 2015. Photo by Kerri Redding.
BY KATHY JENTZ
What happened to the “G” in HGTV? Where did all the garden stories in my local newspaper disappear to? How did the garden section of my local book store shrink to just half a shelf?
You know that your daily newspapers and local community weeklies are shrinking, but have you ever pondered why one section – Sports – never seems to shrink? It is not because it has the most advertising support, nor does it have the broadest appeal. What it does have is a rabid readership base. And when I say “rabid” I mean that not only do readers follow every story both online and in paper form, but they engage with that content. They post comments and go back and read what others write, then comment again. They tweet out links and pass them along on Facebook. They are voracious for any little tiny scrap of new information about their favorite teams and player. Why doesn’t gardening have that same kind of enthusiastic fan base?
Well, actually it does. Gardening is by far the most popular USA pastime. In 2013, almost 108 million Americans classified themselves as gardeners. Alas though, it is also a primarily solitary pursuit with each in his or her own garden puttering and weeding in their own little world. Some join garden clubs or volunteer at local public gardens, sure, but the vast majority do not. They may read the garden column in their local daily and they may nod in agreement or chuckle in amusement, but rarely does it move them to action. Even the touchy subjects of deer and native plants barely get a rise out of even the most passionate home gardener.
Sure we complain to ourselves when the daily paper cuts the home and garden section to one thin column or when our local PBS station cancels our favorite garden show, but do we know that we are actually causing the demise of these worthy garden communication vehicles by our inaction?
What YOU can do:
• Subscribe to both print and online gardening publications and to other publications that contain garden-related content. Give gift subscriptions to everyone you know who may have even a dot of gardening passion within them.
• Write letters to the editor letting them know you read the garden content and would like to see more of it — be specific and effusive.
• Thank the advertisers that do support garden publications and let them know you appreciate their investment by purchasing their products and services.
• When you share a garden story via email or social media, NEVER copy more than the headline and the first sentence along with a link back to where it is originally published. Copying and pasting the entire story will not to let the publishers and other decision-makers know what is being read and passed along. They need to see the number of online views of the original article to measure its reach.
• Share links to gardening stories online via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
• Hit “like” every time you read an online garden article or blog post .
• Comment on garden articles. Even if you read the article in print, go to the publication’s web site, blog, or Facebook page and let them know you read it. Your comment can be as simple as, “Keep up the good work.”
• Get passionate. When a neighbor at the annual block party compliments your zinnias, offer to share seeds and tell them about the latest gardening book you are reading. If a youngster within your sphere of influence shows the least interest in plants, take them under your wing. At your work place, share your garden’s bounty and tell people how they can grow their own. Don’t accept the “I don’t have a green thumb” excuse – veteran gardeners know that we have all killed many plants on our way to gardening success!
• Print this article (yes, you have my permission!) in your garden club newsletters, community garden communications, public garden publications, master gardener group lists, etc.