Editorial - Growing Gardening (Part Two)
The last edition of this newsletter discussed the declining interest in gardening in Australia and some of the likely reasons for it. If you work in the nursery and garden industry, or if you recognise the many benefits to individuals and society that gardening (both private and municipal) can bring, you have a responsibility to help fight the decline.
So, what can be done to "grow" gardening?
Provide inspiration - Put that little extra effort into your front yard or business premises. Raise the standard.
Share your knowledge - It might sound obvious, but are you taking advantage of every opportunity to pass on the things you've learned to family and friends, especially the young ones? Perhaps you have gardening books or spare tools you can pass on, too.*
Take an interest, praise their efforts - Why not let a stranger know how nice their garden looks as you pass by?
Spruik - Remind your neighbours what landscaping could do for their property price or time on market (quite altruistically, of course).
Get political - Let your government representatives know about the economic benefits of both private and public gardens and attractive streescaping (from local employment in nurseries to the potential for international garden tourism). Ask candidates what they will do for parks and gardens if elected. Vote for the candidates that recognise the importance of parks and gardens.
Be community minded - Contact council and ask for street trees to be planted in your nature strip. Alert authorities to weeds or tree vandalism on public land. Support garden clubs and community gardening efforts, in whatever way you can.
Give gardening gifts - There are items to suit all levels of experience, all types of accommodation and all manner of celebrations (for more specific ideas go to Garden Gift Ideas. Besides introducing new players to gardening, it also helps support the industry in the short term.
More thoughts for nurseries, garden centres and other garden businesses:
Advertising and marketing is important to your own business, but you're also doing your part for the industry as a whole by keeping gardening in front of the public and reminding them that it's an important and worthwhile activity.
Another consideration is whether you're making it as easy as possible for the potential customer to find out information about products (growers, manufactures) and where they can buy them (retailers). If someone has seen something they want to purchase, all but the most highly motivated will give up if they need to hire a private detective to find out where to buy one. A properly designed website with attention paid to search engine optimisation (SEO) and online marketing would be a starting point in this day and age, but traditional media, even TV, may also be an option if your budget extends that far.
Technical information including video can be made available to a wide audience at small cost via the internet these days. Why not print your URL on the plant label, leading customers to more cultural information and landscaping ideas available on your website? Besides helping the customer, it makes you look authoritative and you can cross-promote other lines.
There may be opportunities for professionals to share their knowledge, and promote their own businesses along the way, via articles in local publications or talks and demonstrations at various community events. On the other hand, you might bring the public into your business by making space available to clubs or charity events (not necessarily garden-related organisations) where they can see your stock and/or display gardens. Could you offer some of your products or services as a prize for a charity raffle?
Any one of the above suggestions, taken in isolation, might not have a huge effect on the public perception of gardening, but a culture is the cumulative effect of thousands of small interactions. Meanwhile, get out there and enjoy your own garden!
* P.S. And if you think this newsletter might help someone, please let them know about it.