It seems I have received to that awkward age when I am simultaneously outdated sufficient to recoil from the new vocabulary of hipster-discuss, but even now young ample to know that inside a 7 days or so I will obtain myself making use of it. The entire raft of new, often vibrant gardening terminology that has accompanied the unexpected influx of youthful and more assorted voices into horticultural media, mainly thanks to platforms these types of as Instagram, fascinates me. My favourite phrase is a person I figured out only yesterday from my suitably bearded and tattooed Instagram buddy @botanicalotter: plant-flexing.
Adapted from 90s US rapper slang, to “plant-flex” is the horticultural edition of performatively exhibiting one’s wealth via the use of position symbols – in this circumstance the position symbol may well be one thing like a variegated monstera. The concept that a humble houseplant can now be equated to a sports car or fats wad of income may well look surprising, but single leaf nodes of some need to-have species now promote for tens of thousands of pounds on on line auction web sites.
Unfortunately, these inflated prices have led to on-line fraud artists offering counterfeits, and to prevalent theft from botanic gardens. They can also leave the relaxation of us who absence the means (or frankly wish) to perform the plant-flexing video game experience a minor insufficient.
Of study course, getting vegetation as status symbols is almost nothing new – imagine of the trend for tulips in 17th-century Holland or the 19th-century British obsession with abnormal unique trees. But what does this latest surge in the selling price of houseplants say about a passion that was the moment witnessed as an available oasis in the earth of gardening, reasonably totally free from the stuffy course fixations of the rest of horticulture? As you can most likely inform, I really feel this new fetishisation of some crops hazards producing the type of obstacles that, until finally lately, remaining a full technology experience excluded from the business.
Nevertheless, there is yet another standpoint. At any time due to the fact I started out doing the job in horticulture, 20 a long time back, we have been complaining about how minor we are compensated and how no 1 values our abilities. So it seems a bit rich to start receiving cross when some of us are finally getting some type of recognition. Do these high prices actually encourage industrial growers to undertake unusual plants into the mainstream, earning them obtainable to the mass industry within a long time (at times just months) of them to start with getting off on the internet? The actions of a few huge spenders may well assistance extend the total sector, which in the long run may perhaps profit regular gardeners.
A few decades in the past there were being only about 10 houseplant species to pick from as significant-box backyard garden centres regularly slashed their ranges to switch them with cabinets of orthopaedic shoes and meerkat-shaped solar lights.
I guess the similar arguments use to industries this sort of as trend, art and tech, and the truth of the matter is probably somewhere in among. But for the current, I come across it thrilling that I am at last not the only human being fascinated by house vegetation – even if I am now just one of the oldest.
Observe James on Twitter @Botanygeek