Gardening in Crisis – A Long-Standing Tradition Still Popular Today
The pandemic has impacted humanity in many different ways. Still, one commonality is the need to nurture and control something, which often translates into feelings of hope and opportunity for the future. For the horticultural industry, this is often referred to as gardening in crisis.
Anyone associated with the horticultural industry is well aware of the explosion of gardening hobbyists during the pandemic. Gardening allowed individuals to reconnect with nature, their homes, and their families while providing a feeling of accomplishment with freshly cut flowers and home-grown vegetables as the reward.
Gardening in crisis might be a new concept for today’s generation, but it’s part of a long-standing tradition that dates back to wartime days. Here are just a few examples:
- During World War II, many countries encouraged their residents to start Planted Shacks and planting vegetables to help with food rations.
- In the United Kingdom, the slogan “Dig for Victory” encouraged residents to plant gardens, so they did along railway lines and even abandoned city lots.
- At the Sandringham House, the private home of King George VI, gardeners dug up the lush front lawn to plant hundreds of vegetable plants for residents.
Perhaps the most well-known gardening in crisis came shortly after Pearl Harbor when the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged residents to create “Victory Gardens,” also called war gardens or food gardens for defense. With most commercial crops earmarked for troops on the frontlines, Victory Gardens helped replenish the community with food supplies.
In May of 1943, Life Magazine ran an article featuring 18,000,000 Victor Gardens cultivated by Americans. The article’s author writes, “Every unprotected piece of ground was being dug up for Victory Gardens: in Boston’s Copley Square and in the Portland (Ore.) Zoo, in Chicago’s Arlington racetrack and in the Wellesley College campus. Everyone was busy tucking seeds to bed in the moist spring soil—movie stars, soldiers, admirals, airline hostesses, nuns, and prisoners.”
Gardening in crisis remains popular for the simple reason that you can single-handily nurture and control something which not only brings you joy but bountiful results as well. It’s a bright spot we can always turn to where the sun’s rays warm our spirit while our hands in the soil fill our hearts with pure satisfaction during times of uncertainty.
English poet Alfred Austin once wrote, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”
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