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Garden Advertising Creates Sameness Everywhere

Garden advertising creates sameness everywhere.

In search of annuals for my garden I recently visited a couple of box stores in the area.

Of course there were many plants to choose from, but they were the same plants in both places. It is as if to have a garden means we all need to include the same plants.

Fashion and style have always influenced the way we garden.

Certain plants seem to be more acceptable than others.

We know what they are by the advertising about plants for the summer landscape that is going on right now in print, social media, and the many advertising channels.

Communication scholar Hugh Dalziel Duncan said, “In America, cars, clothes, and houses are high communicable symbols of power because they are designed, advertised, and distributed as mass symbols.”

Richard L. Bushman wrote about the link between gardens and social status in his book The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities.  

He said “Colors of the exterior included yellows, browns, and greens to show off the house. Gone were the Colonial days of the bare essentials in house design. Now the shift appeared in what could display the wealth of the homeowner. Colorful houses and gardens contributed to that sense of social status. Nature had been smoothed and decorated as assiduously as walls and paneling inside the house.”

When you see advertising about plants, you tend to see the same plants and garden design from the media.

It should be no surprise that the same garden appears from coast to coast.

The media dictate garden fashion and style, and thus link the garden to social status.

Why is it so difficult to choose different plants?

A big reason may be that most people do not know any plants other than the ones heavily advertised.



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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. There is an increasing interest in remodeling landscapes to re-introduce native plants, and an increasing number of gardening centers are stocking those native plants, grown from seeds or divisions, that provide food for pollinators that have co-evolved with native plants. Doug Tallemy has written of this in Bringing Nature Home, which issues a clarion call for re-establish native habitats. Websites like plantnative,com have lists of nurseries, by state, that sell native and endangered plant species. We are lucky in MA to have the incomparable Garden in the Woods in Framingham, which responsibly grows and markets (and doesn’t have to burn hydrocarbons shipping) rare and delightful native plants that bloom from March to October.


    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree that it is a good thing that more nurseries are featuring native plants today. The work of the Garden in the Woods certainly provides a resource for the gardener as well. I thank that native plants can serve as an option for the garden. The more we talk about them, the more people become aware of native plants. I believe that the issue we face is get more people to learn about this group of plants.

  2. Tom,
    I totally agree with you. I walk around my neighborhood now and I see lovely mature rhododendron and they’re all identical! And I think, boy, wouldn’t I liked to have been the landscaper who had the contract for this neighborhood 50 years ago?

    I feel the same way about garden ornaments. I have no objection to weird or funky, but what really sets me off is that my entire town turns into the Midwest in the fall because of all the cornstalks and hay bales.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Midwest is fine–but not for a town in central Connecticut! I did a post about this a couple of years ago and it seems that I am in the minority. But can’t we do better? I guess not if that’s all homeowners are offered.


    1. Karla, thank you for responding to this post.
      I just returned from the supermarket which also offers plants for sale at this time. All were the familiar varieties like geranium, impatiens, and petunias. They want to sell what sells.
      I sometimes, not always, find independent nurseries or small garden centers a resource for new plant ideas.

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