PATSY G. HAMMONTREE
The term gardening is an inclusive one, meaning both ornamental gardening and vegetable gardening. In American popular culture, however, a reference to a garden more often than not means a vegetable garden. And though horticulture and gardening mean the same thing, horticulture is generally used to refer to ornamental gardening. Ornamental gardening is an important part of American culture, but it is the vegetable garden that is the major preoccupation of many Americans. This chapter will restrict itself to the study of vegetable gardening.
Gardening is a topic of conversation almost as popular as the weather. In the fall, individuals ask, "Is your garden ploughed?" In the winter, gardeners discuss seed catalogs. And in the early spring they begin to till the soil and plant seeds. And though the fundamental purpose of a garden is utilitarian--to grow food--in American culture gardening is more nearly a recreation. It is one of the major sporting propositions in this country.
The National Gardening Association, through its publication Gardens for All, commissioned a Gallup poll on gardening in the United States. The results of the poll revealed that vegetable gardening is the fifth most popular recreational activity in the country. A number of gardening books refer to the poll in making points about gardening. Gardening is especially suited to Americans. It permits American individualism and self-reliance to thrive, and it also allows for creativity. Producing a successful, well-arranged garden is artistry. But because gardening is the ultimate challenge, it remains popular because it satisfies the American desire to compete. The competition works on levels from the spiritual to the frivolous. A gardener competes
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Publication information: Book title: Handbook of American Popular Culture. Volume: 1. Edition: 2nd Rev.. Contributors: M. Thomas Inge - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1989. Page number: 525.
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