Gardening is a popular pastime for many people. For some, gardening is a way to observe beauty and feel relaxation; for others, gardening is a way to showcase their green thumbs. Whatever the reason, gardening is certainly one approach to fostering a direct experience with nature.
But does gardening pose a negative impact on the environment? I read a shocking article in the NY Times a few days ago. Dubbed the "Garden Vigilantes," the reporter interviewed gardeners who kill pests in order to save their vegetables and flowers.
There's Jessica in Connecticut, who shoots garter snakes with a shotgun; Joanna in Brooklyn, who drowns squirrels with her bare hands; Susanne in Alaska who clubs porcupines; and Mr. Anonymous in Pennsylvania who shoots woodchucks. They kill pests because they're annoying. Those animals ruin their gardens or decimate their tranquil experiences with gardening.
Are these people somehow deranged? Probably not, despite their extreme and violent actions toward those animals. (Having said that, I'm appalled and disgusted to know these folks are killing helpless critters.) Although many people garden to appreciate nature, they don't generally think of their yards and gardens as part of the natural environment. This may be why gardeners are likely to plant invasive non-native species, use too much water, and apply pesticides to ward off bugs.
I naively thought gardening was a positive way of feeling connected to nature. But now I'm not so sure. It does make me wonder how people in general view themselves in relation to the natural world. What is valued most when people garden? And how do their values reconcile with preserving (or harming) the environment?