A rather different topic from last week, but it does intrigue me.
I have recently been drafted in to watch over the garden whilst my mother is away. In order to understand my job, I have ‘carefully’ observed how she waters and tenders the flower and vegetable patches. She roams from plant to plant, greenhouse to patio, taking great care to ensure that each area receives an adequate amount of water. My horticultural methods are somewhat different to hers; as long as the garden is soaked, I have technically done my job. My desire for quick satisfaction is certainly not suited to gardening. Is this typical male behaviour?
Well, yes…and no.
I think it’s fair to assume that most men don’t take gardening seriously; but this does change with age, to an extent. I’ve been to a few gardening centers in my time, and the majority of customers are, excluding women, elderly gentlemen. There are moreover a few die-hard young male gardeners, who were attracted to the hobby from a relatively early age. However most men are more interested in – how should I put this? – typically male-dominated recreations. The majority of men can be found engaging in ‘sporting’ activity – and no, I do not mean both senses of that word. The gentlemanly rules of cricket are seldom manifest in most popular team sports. In Football, for example, it is quite common for both sides, even the managers, to voice their discontent towards the officials; this is often in the form of: “that was a f-antastically appalling decision, you massive c-utiepie!” Rugby is rather different, however: in this game, a punch to the face is often a sign of respect. After the match, moreover, the players frequently have a drink together. In Football, conversely, they might have a drink with each others’ wives.
All in all, men tend to gravitate towards more physical, less delicate group activities, wherein one does not need patience and finesse to achieve results (unless one was an excellent defender for Hamsay Rangers U-8s, who scored a few belters in his day). Individual hobbies such as Gardening, on the other hand, do indeed require nurture and planning.
It is certainly true that many areas of professional life are unfairly dominated by men – sport included. It is also the case that some activities have a predominantly female audience; gardening is one such hobby; baking is another. Is there a noticeable trend here? Men dominate activities which bring quick reward – such as sport – and women more often occupy their time with interests which require thought and care. I’m no feminist but I do understand, albeit to a limited degree, why some would claim that “all men are the same”.
But not all men are the same. I, for instance, am quite happy to occupy significant amounts of my time to make an Airfix model, or to set-up my train set (which is extremely cool by the way). Both hobbies are time-consuming, requiring much thought and focus. I am definitely not an isolated case, moreover. Many men, and women, enjoy the two aforementioned hobbies. Both activities show that, with careful planning and forethought, one can achieve the same satisfaction as that which attracts others to cruder activities.
So why don’t more men involve themselves in gardening? We are clearly capable of putting the hours in. Is there something inherently unmanly about holding a shovel? I don’t see why there should be. After all, builders sometimes use shovels, and they are apparently extremely macho. Indeed, they are essentially engines of stereotypical masculinity. On building sites in particular they’ll chat about their bedroom antics, occasionally wolf-whistling at the nearest fairly attractive woman in order to impress the rest of the group.
I’ve picked up a noticeable trend here, which concerns both sexes, but mostly men – when in groups their behaviour is rather immature, and distinguished by a desire to achieve instant gratification. It is manifest on building sites, and various sports. Indeed, with enough alcohol, women too will become shrieking ravens of mass hysteria.
But I digress, somewhat.
Overall, it is understandable why more men haven’t been attracted to Gardening. Perhaps, if left alone to their own devices, they will be. So, Alan Titchmarsh isn’t actually a freak of nature (see what I did there?)