"Nearly one in four front gardens in the UK is completely paved over" according to The BBC. When did this happen? A country once filled with gardeners, and now ¼ of all front gardens are paved over? This despite evidence of the environmental, and health benefits, of gardens? The horticulture trade is partly responsible for this by feeding into the “instant gratification" desire.
When I started in the nursery business back in the early 80’s flowers were sold without blooms. We sold flats and flats of flowers with not one bloom, just a sign with a picture of what the flower would look like. People bought these, and patiently waited for the blooms, which came along quickly. Then the first flats of blooming flowers started showing up in the later 80’s. People naturally gravitated towards these flats of flowers as you could plant them, and voila, “instant” color. No more waiting for the blooms to come naturally, no planning ahead, just buy already blooming flowers. Problem? They don’t grow! They have been treated with PGR’s.
PGR’s, or “plant growth regulators” are used by growers to stunt the growth of the vegetative part of the plant, to promote earlier flowering. PGR's are applied as a spray, or dip. Growers have seen the results of selling these flats with already blooming flowers. Unknowing customers buy them up! Their lives seem so busy, and there is no time for patience, and they demand instant gratification. However, the plants don’t grow like they did in Grandma’s garden. The little flowers have blooms, but the alyssum doesn’t cascade over the wall like grandmas did. The marigolds never gain any height. The flowers bloom, but seem stunted. People figure they are doing something wrong, don’t have a “green thumb”, and give up.
Growth regulators are also used so the plants stay small enough to fit on the racks of the large semi-trucks that deliver the flowers. Uniformity of growth for transport overshadows growing healthy, various sized flowering plants. Again, this sells plants at the nursery, but doesn’t build a lifelong love affair with the garden. Hence, in our efforts to satisfy the ever demanding public, we have cut corners, and taken much of joy out of a once joyful hobby.
There is hope as some smaller growers do not use PGR's , and promote that. These healthier non-treated flowers will grow better, and flower longer. Most important the gardener will have success, and benefit from the patience that the garden use to teach those that listen. In the long run we may grow a whole new population of gardeners, who fall in love with the garden and continue that relationship far into the future, instead of paving that future over with asphalt.
BBC article: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38772477