Bord Bia research uncovers future gardening trends and behaviours

Ireland's next generation gardeners will be younger, more eco-aware, GYO (grow your own) advocates, according to research by Bord Bia.

Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy, Bloom show manager Gary Graham and show sponsor FBD's Fiona Muldoon
Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy, Bloom show manager Gary Graham and show sponsor FBD's Fiona Muldoon

The average when people start gardening is 41 and easily maintained, compact gardens are preferred, the study, ‘Gardening in Ireland’, which was carried out by Red C on behalf of Bord Bia, found.

With 63% of the Irish population living in urban areas, and a growing number with "limited or no" space to grow, gardening within a limited space will become ever-more important. This trend is particularly prevalent in Dublin where 25% of inhabitants have no garden.

The Bord Bia , also revealed that over 1.3 million Irish people, from almost 1 million households, now garden on a regular basis. Ireland’s gardening enthusiasts, those who love to garden on a regular basis, are mainly female (69%), and 4 in 10 are over the age of 55. Some 75% of all adults surveyed believe that gardening is good for your mental health, while almost all (98%) adults who garden on a regular basis know that it is! Three in four regular gardeners consider digging to be a "pain"; nonetheless 95% believe it keeps them fit and active.

Bord Bia launched highlights from the report today (17 May) ahead of its annual Bloom festival, taking place in the Phoenix Park Dublin from June 1 – 5.  

Around 75% of Ireland’s gardening enthusiasts (i.e. those who regularly garden and love it), own a large or medium garden. Some 26% live in Dublin, while 34% reside in ‘Rest of Leinster’. Almost all plant and sow flowers, herbs and vegetables on a regular basis.

Some 43% of gardening ‘fledglings and developers’ i.e. those who do some gardening but would like to or plan to do more, own a small garden, balcony or limited space. They tend to purchase plants a local DIY store and although only7% currently grow vegetables, 68% would be interested in doing so in the future.   

The study found that Looking ahead, gardeners of the future will want compact gardens that are easy to maintain and the need for easier maintenance options are driven by busy lifestyles, as 44% of those surveyed cite time as the biggest barrier to gardening – in particular among the young & free audience (71%). Easy to maintain gardens would encourage 75% of people to garden more and 59% say that if they could do it in a small space it would encourage them to garden more

GIY (grow it yourself) is still in very much in vogue –a vegetable patch or area is the most popular planned feature to have in a garden in the next 3 years (19%) among the gardeners, ahead of a patio or decking. This ranked highest among 25-34 year olds (25%).

In a digital world, the gardener of the future will further embrace the benefits of new technology as a source of inspiration, advice (forums, top tips) and garden management (apps, timely reminders on planting, seasonality, monitoring water use etc).

The online retailing channel is still in its infancy in the world of gardeners, but this is likely to develop further in the future.

‘Aspiring and Novice’ gardeners are even more attuned to their environmental responsibilities. Composting is expected, rainwater harvesting an obvious choice and local sourcing and native planting makes sense.

Bees too are a consideration in their plans and so too is companion planting for natural pest control and 52% of gardeners say that supporting wildlife and birds is an important reason for them gardening.

Approximately 340,000 adults (19% of gardeners) in Ireland grow vegetables regularly at home with 4 in 10 adults (43%) expressing an interest in GY0, 1.4 million people. Interest peaks at 54% among the 35-44 year olds.

Meanwhile, 41 is the age we officially get in to gardening, a new survey from Fiskars has revealed.

Up until this point, nearly 3 in 10 adults continue to rely on elderly parents to sort out their outdoor space - with one in twenty even calling on grandparents to tend to their gardens.

A further 1 in 10 resort to watching clips on YouTube to help remedy their horticultural issues.

The poll revealed a third of adults have never trimmed a hedge and nearly a quarter haven't ever potted a plant.

A further 23% of the 1,500 adults polled claim to have never mown a lawn or raked leaves in the garden.

Botanist and broadcaster James Wong said: "The study shows there is a lack of engagement between the younger generation and gardening, but it's so important we don't lose that passion for our outdoor spaces.

"A lack of enjoyment or interest in maintaining a garden usually stems from people not knowing where to start. That's why developing an interest in gardening and showing the rewards that outdoor spaces can bring is essential, such as growing plants in small spaces, which can be fun and productive - you just need a little sunshine and some imagination."

Fiskars said: "Getting in to gardening at the age of 41 may seem late, but with many adults not getting on the property ladder or living in flats until their late thirties, it's becoming the norm.

"Gardening can seem daunting at first and it's only natural to want to call upon parents or grandparents who tend to be much more knowledgeable. Our innovative range of products makes gardening easy and hassle free, helping you to reconnect with your outside space, no matter your level of skill."

The survey showed more than a third of respondents describe their garden as a place to escape it all and one in ten said they were immensely proud of the way their outdoor space looked.

A quarter see themselves as a keen gardener but half of the adults that took part in the poll said they wouldn't be able to identify a fuchsia, 40% would struggle to spot a pansy and more than half wouldn't know a geranium.

Despite spending on average five hours per week in their gardens, those surveyed say they are ashamed of the state of their outdoor areas, yet in a typical year they will invest just £119 in maintaining and improving the space.

A new British Lifestyles report from Mintel reveals that consumers are braced for an expensive future ahead. Over four in five (83%) Brits are currently concerned about seeing price rises on goods and services, with 59% worried about the mounting cost of groceries, 35% worried about the climbing cost of holidays and 26% fearing that clothes prices will ascend.

Beyond concerns over rising prices, Brits are also worried about "bigger picture" issues. As many as 81% of UK consumers are concerned about the future health of the NHS, while 68% are worried about the UK economy and 67% are nervous about the state of the environment. By contrast, people appear less concerned by issues relating to their personal situation, with half (48%) of all adults concerned about their ability to pay the bills and less than two in five (37%) worried about their level of debt.

Some 46% of UK consumers say that Britain's vote to leave the European Union will have a negative impact on the cost of living in the UK, with this proportion unchanged from when the question was first asked in July 2016, immediately following the referendum result. However, attitudes towards Brexit’s impact on the economy appear to have softened, as 31% now believe it will have a negative impact on the UK’s economic growth, down from 39% in July 2016.

Meanwhile, a YouGov survey commissioned by Friends of the Earth says 78% of those polled agree that garden centres and retailers should not sell plants grown with pesticides that are harmful to bees. 

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