George Ball Discusses Future of Gardening

George Ball discusses the future of gardening in this interesting piece by Dean Fosdick of the Associated Press  on where the gardening industry is headed in the year 2020 and beyond.


Original article appears under the title “Climate of Change Ahead for Gardening”.  You can read the original Associated Press article here.



While many gardeners scan the newly arrived seed catalogs to plan their next growing season, the industry’s visionaries are pouring talent and resources into products and ideas they hope will be sown in years to come.

Evolutionary biology is just one aspect of flora development; plant resiliency, landscape design and education also are part of the creative mix.

So what are the prospects for gardening in the year 2020 and beyond? Some responses from the long-term thinkers:



Coach Mark Smallwood, executive director, Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pa.:

“Organic gardening won’t be simply a niche market. It’s a $31 billion industry now and growing in double digits every year.

“There will be more food and fewer lawns. Urban food production will be up because a lot of open space is becoming available. With all the empty homes, you can create parks; you can create food production. Detroit is rebounding using not only open land but creating vertical hydroponic food production in abandoned industrial buildings.”



Jose Smith, chief executive officer, Costa Farms, Miami:

“We’re trying hard to bring more color to houseplants. Green is not a color. We’re also trying to create plants so they’re more of a lifestyle — a living home decor.”



Greg Ina, vice president, The Davey Institute, Kent, Ohio:

“We’re working to quantify the benefits of trees. People are beginning to go beyond the anecdotal understanding that trees are good — beyond beautification to natural functions like pollution and wellness.

“Another big scientific topic is resiliency. Improving early detection. Dealing with the invasion of exotic pests. Building resistance to climate change. That impacts what we plant and where we plant trees.”



Anthony Tesselaar, president and co-founder, Anthony Tesselaar Plants, Silvan, Australia:

“The gardening industry has been looking at plant size and multi-use aspects with increasing urbanization, and also such factors as increased disease resistance to reduce the needs for pesticides and other chemicals in a closed urban environment.

“Dwarf and clump plants are being developed for smaller-space gardening. There is also work on establishing more fastigiated (slender) trees and shrubs.”



George Ball, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, W. Atlee Burpee & Co., Warminster, Pa.:

“All roads lead to the garden. Almost everybody is into gardening and vegetable gardening is the focus. Flowers are almost on the sidelines.

“Gardening feeds spinoff hobbies like cooking. People who grow things tend to become amateur cooks. If you cook at home, look at how much money you save.

“Gardening also impacts health. If you go to any clinic and talk to any dietician, the effects of vegetables are obvious. Choosing a diet high in vegetables makes you a lot healthier.”

“Parents of newborns are increasingly shying away from processed foods and are forcing companies such as Burpee to research high-yielding, relatively bland-tasting — still retaining all nutritious elements — soft-fruited elements.

“More than just an accent, herbs will soon occupy a more prominent role in American home-cooked cuisine, with far more flavorful leaves that will change recipes and food for the table. We see this happening at top-tier restaurants in major cities.

“Spurred by less space and the need to protect gardens from exploding populations of deer, every major home gardening company is working on developing a portfolio of vegetables for cultivation on patios and limited areas. Plants will be smaller but their yields higher.”


This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at 3:54 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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5 Responses to “George Ball Discusses Future of Gardening”

  1. Elizabeth Palya said:

    I agree that gardening is popular (and necessary) but why are there almost no gardening shows on TV?
    The G is missing from HGTV.

  2. Janice Gerdemann said:

    this is a very interesting conversation, using the same machines we denigrate. I am a gardener, conservationist, and wilderness protector. Now at an advanced age I am confined to a group home; however I do what I can to stay connected – watch many kinds of birds at my feeders, take county buses to natural areas and gardens. Thanks for these messages. Janice Gerdemann

  3. Les Larson said:

    Variety is important as is planting disease resistant hybrids. But what I have really found is soil testing for nutrients such a super calcium and the foliar spray that stimulate the plant to grow more roots and by doing that the plant is less stressed so it resists insects, blight and funguses and in turn with more roots delivers the nutrients to the plant. Bountiful is the gardeners sight for these poducts.!!!!

  4. Eleni Nicolelis said:

    This is encouraging since we have a major problem with deer and 8 foot high fences seem to be the only answer for farmers and residential areas.

  5. Bruce Parliman said:

    Recent issues of the American Bee Journal have discussed problems with bees today. One of the issues may be a lack of food sources in large single-crop farms where the main crop requires pollination. Once the almond flowers are finished, bees don’t have other food sources unless they are trucked elsewhere. When weeds are removed, bees do not have alternate flowers for food sources. Almonds are a primary example. Perhaps work on planting nonweed flowering plants in crop plant fields might be an interesting subject for research.

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