Podcast: Garden Confidential

Episode 6: X and Y, Part I

“Why don’t young people garden?” I can’t tell you how often I’ve been asked that question, in a variety of ways, as a “young” gardener myself. It’s always perplexing, because I am a young person who does garden, and I certainly don’t consider myself a voice for my generation. The only good answer I can give is, “Well, I garden.” When that isn’t enough, I tend to go on about my gardening business.

That said, I haven’t always produced a podcast either. I decided this topic–why don’t Gen X and Gen Y garden?–deserved some investigation. This month, we bring you the first in a two-part series on just that. In this episode, we’ll try to wrap our brains around the issue itself, and in part two, later this spring, we’ll look at ways Gen X/Y gardeners we know have come to gardening, how it happened, and what we can learn from their experiences.

The stories of this month’s pair of guests (one Gen X, one Gen Y), parallel the dichotomies of those generations as they converge and diverge. To start, both had similar experiences in that they grew up with plants and nature, and those experiences inform their world view today.

Links mentioned in this podcast…

Kiss My Aster on FineGardening.com
Rainbow Iris Farm

Kelly Norris lectures on the topic: “I’m more than convinced [that] when those primal moments take place in the garden, there is something very magical, there is something lasting about those experiences on the human psyche.” Norris is the owner of a nursery, Rainbow Iris Farm, and author of A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts, due out in May.

Norris’ path and that of my other guest, Fine Gardening blogger and author Amanda Thomsen, diverged in that he devoted his life to horticulture as a teenager, while she put it down and returned by chance in her mid-twenties. Thomsen wonders how life might be different for her and others like her if they’d been aware of the career options available in horticulture industry.

“No one ever said [to me] ‘Hey, did you know that horticulture is something you can do?'” says Thomsen. “How cool are the parents who are like, ‘You know what you should be? An arborist.'”

Moreover, both are voracious consumers of horticulture, even as they find it an industry that’s out of touch with what attracts them as consumers, and find themselves besieged by the same question I have: “Why don’t people your age garden?” As such, both have given the idea some thought.

“I don’t need a tea cozy,” says Thomsen. “I came in for seeds.”

Music from this podcast by ccMixter user Pitx.

View Comments


  1. groundworks 05/16/2012

    Hi Andrew- great article on GenX/GenY gardeners! I (born 1968) am a garden designer in NYC and in the off hours of winter my business partner and I host a radio program, We Dig Plants on the HeritageRadioNetwork.com- hope you can tune in and have a listen. I think the "younger generation" is actually very interested in gardening, especially veggies, but it's hard to find real sources of info these days, vs wikipedia....your blog is really fun and maybe we could work together to change some of that and get people interested in plants and how they came to be in the market, the profession at large etc..I like Amanda Thomsen's thoughts a lot... eerily familiar.

    Alice Marcus Krieg & Carmen Devito

  2. BombasticTurtle 05/17/2012

    Hello Andrew! Great job with the podcast! As a 46 year old male, and with no prior experience in gardening, the gardening bug attacked me about five years ago, and I have absolutely no chances of a recovery! People around me and even those that talk about "Green Earth", could not explain or figure out my interest in gardening. In my belief, more and more younger people should be encouraged to continue with their interest in going green. Living in a city, in apartments, limited financial resources, etc while I constraining factor should not be a deterrent. You are doing a great job and I do post most of the links and podcasts from fine gardening on to my Facebook page. Thank you for the thankless job you do. Together, we all can make this a much better world to live in!!!

  3. andrewkeys 05/18/2012

    Hi commenters! Thanks so much to both of you for your wonderfully positive comments! @BombasticTurtle, I am so with you, and it's great to hear anytime someone "catches the bug" enough to be a living example of why gardening is so great. @Alice and Carmen, thank you too, and I agree, I think my generation (or generations, since I'm smack in the middle of X and Y) are actually far more interested in gardening than maybe the market has realized yet, they're just articulating it and consuming it in a different way all their own.

    Thanks for listening and sharing your thoughts, and have a great weekend!

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  5. UrbanGardener84 01/04/2013

    Hello Andrew,

    I very much enjoyed the podcast. My only question is, when is part 2 coming? I'd love to hear more solutions!

    Being a Gen-Yer and working in the industry, I too am perplexed to hear regularly how Xers and Yers just aren't gardening like the Boomers did. I think Kelly and Amanda made great points each. Those two generations simply are not being marketed to. It is something I am currently working on here at my families garden center in MN. We believe we have some good ideas in the works, but we always have our minds open for fresh new ideas. The industry as a whole sure could use them.

    Keep up the good work!

    Dave Linder

  6. andrewkeys 01/31/2013

    Hi Dave - Very good question! We got a bit sidetracked on Part II, but I'm hoping to get to it sometime this year. Glad you enjoyed Part I and the podcast in general, and more importantly, thanks for listening!

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