For three years — ever since I stopped living in the house I own and started living in other people’s houses — I have been a frustrated gardener.
As a foster parent for houses between owners, I know the arrangement is temporary. I am not to do anything permanent, like paint a vanilla room crimson, or plant an English garden. This is trying for someone who likes to knock out a wall now and then.
So this time of year, as Spring blossoms like a debutante, and the yard calls to me like the sea to a sailor, I am aware of how my constraints put a crimp in my garden hose.
I want to plant something green and nurture it. My instinct to nest is as strong as an Osprey’s. Never mind, that time has allowed me to cover, as if with a weed barrier, the memories of my failed yard projects.
Maybe because Spring and hope go together like Easter and eggs, I have all but forgotten the times the rabbits devoured my herb garden, the ugliest worms alive invaded my tomato vines, a hailstorm ravaged my perennials, voles made a buffet of the 200 bulbs I’d planted, and the day several ladies were over for lunch.
That day, I had put sprigs of homegrown mint in their ice tea, which they were sipping genteelly when one of my children loudly announced, “Oh, that’s the mint from Theo’s corner,” referring to our dog’s favorite watering spot.
Which explains why last week, as I was in The Home Depot, along with the rest of America’s home improvers, I couldn’t resist the lure of the garden section.
I had gone to the big box store to buy picture hangers, but the garden section, all bursting and thriving and springing with verdant life, distracted me. I detoured from my task, and was soon putting half a dozen fresh herbs — little plastic containers of basil, parsley, rosemary — in my cart.
My head spun with a vision of a small herb garden in my kitchen by a sunny window, where I would have my mini, if impermanent — especially in my hands — garden after all.
I came home inspired, but minus the picture hangers (darn!), and planted my herbs in happy ceramic containers. I banished any thought of the failure and blazed on delusional as someone in the early stages of love, believing, against all odds, that it would be easy, and would turn out right.
I soon after learned, and this is so disillusioning to people like me who think they are original, that I am part of a tsunami-size trend.
“The number one trend, by far, this spring is the home garden,” said Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design for The Home Depot. “More consumers than ever are growing their own.”
“Vegetables, you mean,” I say, to be clear. I mean with all this talk of legalizing marijuana, you never know what Home Depot will sell next. Heck, they sell everything else.
“Edible plants, in seed and live forms, have been the fastest growing category in live goods for the past five years,” said Fishburne.
Driving the trend, she said, are consumers who have grown up with the Food Network, so are more food savvy. A generation ago, outdoor dining consisted of hot dogs and hamburgers. Today consumers want homegrown tomatoes and endive.
“As more people embrace the idea of farm to table,” she said, “that trend carries into backyard and container gardening.” And renters and homeowners are both getting very creative about gardens in tight places.
Here are some ways they are growing their own edibles:
Join me next week as Fishburne shares the next three biggest trends in outdoor living.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.