In an age where bad news streams constantly into our phones, the simple, rhythmic joy of gardening offers an escape. Is it any surprise millennials are returning to it?by Ella Risbridger / July 6, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
I resent writing this article very deeply, just now, because I’m mainly thinking about the dipladenia. I think I could twine her more precisely round the railings. I worry that she’s growing too wild and unkempt in my care. I want to be outside, making things work, and instead I’m inside writing what my generation unironically calls “content”.
I am not content at my computer. I’m many things, but content is not one of them: I am caught here, scrolling and typing and scrolling some more, waiting for something intangible to happen. Of course, you wait in a garden, too. You wait for rain. You wait for green shoots. You wait to see if things you’ve done pay off. You wait to see if the roses will bud again. You wait, you breathe, you dig. It’s beautiful.
Everyone is gardening. Millennials, apparently, spend more on plants than their parents. They do not buy plants in garden centres (sales down by 10 per cent!), but they buy plants in supermarkets, and hipster stores where everything is made out of galvanised steel and reclaimed timber, off market stalls for three quid a tray. They buy plants from Instagram and from apps. In the course of writing this piece I have already bought two pots of ivy and a sweet tea plant from an app targeting millennials. What can I say? I’m a gardener now.
I don’t have a garden, obviously: I’m a millennial, and more to the point, a freelance writer living in London. But I’ve got a two-foot-by-five concrete balcony overlooking a tarmacked carpark, and I have filled it with growing things. The snapdragons are very happy. The herbs are pretty happy, although I’ve not cracked the coriander yet (why are you sprawling? Why are you so yellowish underneath?). Supermarket roses: refusing to put forth any more flowers, but certainly alive. Hydrangea: sulking. Dipladenia: twining (although, like I say, it could be doing so more precisely).
I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of anything than this tiny patch of blossoming concrete.