I have noticed a shift in how gardening is defined. In the past when one went looking for information on gardening it was almost always categorized under "Home" or "Design". It was assumed if you are a gardener then you would have a house, and be interested in design. The mindset appears to be changing, especially amongst the younger crowd who perhaps don't own, or rent a house with a yard. These people tend to group their gardening activities under the banner "environmental" or "Eco", as opposed to "home" or "style".
This is important for those for us in retail who in the past have always counted on the "home" crowd for our business. With home ownership declining, I wonder if our marketing has caught up to this. Perhaps we are still wedded to the idea that our customer is a home owner with design, and functionality at the forefront. The new customer may also attach greater importance to how the act of gardening plays into their idea of ecological awareness.
Seed bombs, Seed Bomb Dispensers (pictured at left), guerrilla gardening, edible schoolyards, required environmental studies, Eco Pod Nurseries, etc., are new ideas and products that will change how we view the garden, and gardening. Garden centers need to keep this in mind as we navigate the new world.
I think this change is great! It allows horticulture a whole new lease on life. Many of our offerings and ideas are starting to become "hip" and what's "in". Now the other stuff like synthetic pesticides, herbicides, our poor record of sustainability, and overuse of plant growth regulators, does us no good. So garden centers and nurseries will have to choose which market to address. I think for the smaller garden center, being classified under "Eco" is a great opportunity to really show that "Eco" is more than just a catchphrase. Eco can also be stylish and beautiful. As I posted in July of 2008, it's a "Big Opportunity for 'real' green businesses".