Friday, February 12, 2016

Roses or Wheelbarrows on Valentine's Day

This is it; the big day that allows macho guys to walk around in public carrying bunches of flowers. Guys, you may feel a little self conscious, embarrassed even, but there is a payoff — a happy partner.

This raises a serious question, however, given society has come so far in so many areas. Why is it the majority of flowers are given by men and received by women? I know, the bunch of red roses on Valentine’s Day is traditional, but men in general do seem to have an aversion to flowers. 
There’s no avoiding it; they don’t see an interest in plants, flowers, and gardening as macho enough. Lots of men must garden, of course, but you wouldn't think so judging by the people passing through garden centers and nurseries each spring. I'm often the only guy in the place — buying plants, that is. 

A few are often dragged there reluctantly. I usually spot them kicking the tires on wheelbarrows or browsing the sharp tool display. I’m almost always outnumbered at horticultural society meetings, too, but on the positive side, there’s never a line up for the men’s washroom.

It isn’t easy being a plant and flower lover (hey, I grow potatoes too). For instance, whenever I’m having coffee with a group of guys, the conversation invariable turns to golf, baseball, hockey or cars. Consequently, it never seems quite the right time to say — anyone like to see pictures of my prize peony?
You can hardly blame the guys. Historically, gardening has been women's work — something to keep her busy between fixing meals and doing laundry by hand for a family of fifteen. Man's thing was ploughing fields and felling trees. They're now overloaded with genes that cause them to be drawn to power equipment. Give a guy a garden job and he'll find the horsepower to accomplish it, and with as much noise as possible.
Mowers and blowers, chippers and clippers — that's gardening! They'll spread fertilizer, tune up the tools, hose down the patio, even paint the driveway, but fiddle with flowers — forget it. What's the use of a lawn if it's not big enough to handle a riding mower?
Yet the fundamentals are all there. Despite Red Green, men are slowly changing and are beginning to reveal their nurturing side. They're changing diapers and hugging their kids, even ordering the pizza. With a little re-training they might enjoy tending a garden.

The marketing people could help a lot. If they can convince a whole nation to tune in to hockey in the middle of June, then surely they can turn men on to gardening. Can you imagine the effect of placing a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger on every packet of seed? What would happen if Tiger Woods were a guest host on a TV gardening show? Call it sexist, but I know that if Beyonce or Jennifer Lawrence were featured alongside flowers in gardening magazines, there are many men who would be browsing them all winter instead of Sports Illustrated.
Just think of it, a world full of gardeners. World leaders getting together for a photo opportunity while turning a compost heap — before retiring to the golf course — then imagine the conversations. I can hear it now: "Oh no, I think I just sliced my ball over the purple buddleia into the periwinkle beneath that Acer negundo." I’m convinced it would help if women began giving flowers to men. They’d at least have to pretend they liked them, and that’s a start. Try it. He might just appreciate a bunch of long stemmed roses – or maybe not.


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