Rise of the #PlantParent

There was a time when young adults were afraid to put down roots. Now, it seems, that’s all they want to do. Roots. And stems. And flowers. And plants, soil, bulbs, veggies, vines and mulch.

That’s what’s encouraged on Garden Day, now in its fourth year and taking place on Sunday, October 20: “The opportunity to celebrate the greener things in life. Because there’s no such thing as too much mulch.”

Millennials are finding solace in gardening, and have vigorously taken on what is traditionally seen as a fairly laid-back activity. New research released in the UK reveals that millennials aged 35 and under are more passionate about gardens than their older counterparts, but have less time to enjoy their benefits.

Yoga and meditation

Eschewing relaxation trends such as yoga and meditation, the research found that more than half (53%) of young people – compared to just 44% of those aged 35+ – wish they simply had more time to spend in their garden, go for a walk and sit in a park, recognising the positive impact that nature has on combating the stresses of modern life.

Often stereotyped as addicted to social media and technology, a significant 68% of under-35s now enjoy looking after the humble houseplant, and those who do say that they are happier with their lives.

It’s happening here in Mzansi too, providing this generation with a wholesome outlet where they can shut out the mayhem of modern life, take it slow, get down and get dirty. Thirty-year-old Corrie Gunter’s home resembles a jungle (pictured, top, by Dwayne Senior for Marvello & Mill/Garden Day SA). Unlike the concrete one just beyond the balcony, his is thriving, lovingly nourished on a daily basis.

A science officer at the University of Cape Town’s Biopharming Research Unit, and boasting a Master of Science degree in Biology, Corrie “takes his work home with him”, but he views this pastime as necessary to his well-being.

“Plants create a space in which you never feel alone because you have so many living things around you,” he explains. “We live in a time when everything has to happen so fast. It’s just go, go, go. Through gardening, you learn to be patient, to take your time.”

Shruthi Nair in her indoor garden. Pictures: Supplied

In Gauteng, in between raising a son and running a business, 35-year-old Shruthi Nair makes space for some me-time gardening. Up and about at 4am most mornings, she makes her son’s school lunch and a cup of coffee for herself. Then it’s gardening time as she waters and tends to her indoor plants before starting her work day.

“All people have agrarian roots and then, over time, we started losing touch with the soil, but with all the threats to our natural resources in this era it’s wonderful to see how more and more people are gardening and realising that even a small patch or balcony space can generate produce for the family,” she says.

Never too young

And you’re never too young to start. A few years ago, Johan Coetzer, now aged just 11, gave each friend who attended his birthday party a few plants, a container, and some soil and fertiliser together with instructions on how to start their own little garden. His dad, Francois, says he and his wife, Juliana, have never had any particular interest in gardening at their home in Welgemoed, Cape Town, and are at a loss to explain what has kindled Johan’s passion at such a tender age.

Just 11, Cape Town’s Johan Coetzer is an avid gardener. Photographer: Dwayne Senior for Garden Day

The 11-year-old is also a committed vegetable and herb grower and often hones his hobby by watching TV gardening programmes and dipping into gardening books he has collected. He has developed a particular interest in succulents which he cultivates in pots and often transplants into bigger containers as they grow.

Gardens give people a sense of purpose

So where does this new obsession… ahem… stem from? Poppy Jamie, a Wellbeing Entrepreneur, believes that it’s a return to the source, of sorts. “Anxiety and stress are becoming increasingly prevalent issues,” she explains. “This means that there’s never been a more urgent need for activities that take us away from technology and nurture community.”

Loneliness is an increasing symptom of our interconnected world, and the opportunity to connect with the powerful forces of nature, while simultaneously disconnecting from digital clutter is a surprisingly simple solution.

If you aren’t already a self-confessed plant mom or dad why not give it a go? It’s good for you, it’s good for your home and it’s good for the planet. Perhaps you need a trial run, the chance to play around in someone else’s green space. And you can do all that on Garden Day.

Candide

Garden Day was proudly created by Candide, a gardening app that connects gardeners with fellow plant lovers, public gardens and plant nurseries, with the aim of kick-starting a movement to unite all South Africans.

Ready … steady … grow!

Taking part in Garden Day couldn’t be easier: visit www.gardenday.co.za to download a toolkit with hints, tips and how-to videos, all aimed at helping you create the perfect celebration. Join the “movement” by following @GardenDaySA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Share your Garden Day celebrations on social media by tagging @GardenDaySA and using #GardenDaySA.

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