Mr BrownThumb had a look at this report over at GardenBloggers.com a few days ago, which prompted me to go and see for myself. Over 1.4 million blog posts from 2009 were analysed from garden bloggers in 13 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, UK and USA.
Naturally a lot of automation was used to analyse that many posts (plus internet searches), but a manual analysis of blogs and forums, plus a questionnaire were also used to compile the results. In general they found garden bloggers to be non-competitive, who strive for personal fulfilment through the creation of their own personal 'Eden'.
Each gardener has their own vision of what this 'Eden' might be, divided into 10 main types:
- Kitchen Gardening
- The Organic Garden
- The Feel-Good Garden
- The Designed and Artistic Garden
- Re-Creating Wilderness
- The Social Garden
- Urban Farming
- The Lush Garden
- Container Gardening
- Greenhouse Gardening
Each country had its own favourite categories: in the UK these were Kitchen Gardening, The Feel-Good Garden ('a soothing experience') and the Designed and Artistic Garden (self expression through style and 'making the garden into a personal piece of art').
I struggled with the latter category: there's quite a few UK garden designers who blog and I wondered if this might have skewed the analysis, and I felt the very similar Lush Garden category ('planned, designed, well-organised' and 'requires a lot of work') might fit us a bit better.
There were general observations about us not saying that much about the tools we use. I can understand this: tools are part of the work side of gardening which don't get bought or replaced that often, plus if we're focusing more on the end result in the form our own personal Eden takes, the humble spade or trowel we use isn't really going to get much of a look in.
Lawns aren't discussed much either: but then according to the report the core group of bloggers in the UK is middle-aged women and if I and my (non-blogging) friends are anything to go by we're not usually the person looking after the lawn anyway.
As we don't talk tools or lawns, it's going to be a harder job for Husqvarna and Gardena to use this information to bring us the products we want. However, I'm sure they'll work hard to interpret what's needed for each of the 10 categories and which ones are best suited for marketing in each of the 13 countries.
I have some reservations about how the study has been conducted, particularly as there's an implied assumption the garden blogging community is a (albeit very large) representative sample of all gardeners. It's also interesting to see that we're perceived as the garden trend setters or 'shapers': we talk about issues, techniques, styles and products well ahead of what books and magazines have to say.
I wonder how all of this will translate into what we find at our local garden centres over the next year or so.