Plant happiness

Allow me to word-nerd out for a minute. Every December, I look forward to the various dictionaries’ Word of the Year to see how each sums up the last 12 months. Sometimes it’s funny; sometimes it’s painfully accurate. This year it’s some of both.

For 2022, Oxford Dictionaries picked ‘goblin mode,’ and while that’s technically two words, it does capture the widespread rejection of the pressures of social norms we’re seeing post-pandemic.

People have gotten used to letting social norms slide, and many are feeling overwhelmed after several years of global crises and news cycles full of anxiety-inducing headlines, so they’re searching for comfort wherever they can find it. Twitter user Dave McNamee summed up the idea of ‘goblin mode’ nicely, saying, “Goblin mode is like when you wake up at 2 a.m. and shuffle to the kitchen wearing nothing but a long T-shirt to make a weird snack, like melted cheese on saltines.”

Think of it as the opposite of the cottagecore trend of perfectly baked loaves of crusty homemade bread and painstakingly embroidered designs.

Meanwhile, ‘permacrisis,’ an extended period of instability and insecurity, was the Word of the Year for Collins and Merriam-Webster chose ‘gaslighting,’ which the dictionary says speaks to the current “age of misinformation” and the “vast increase in channels and technologies used to mislead.”

Suffice to say last year was a tough one on many fronts. And with a recession on the horizon in 2023, people are likely still going to be looking for a pick-me-up like say, a plant or some time in a beautiful garden. What better way to brighten your day than connecting with nature?

Despite the negative economic factors looming in 2023, you’ll find many positive indicators about consumer spending in the gardening sector in this year’s Spring Survival Guide. From IGCs’ perspectives on the coming year here to Dr. Charlie Hall’s economic insights here to an Axiom survey showing strong spending here, we hope you’ll find the positive outlook inspiring and motivating. Money might be tight, but to borrow a phrase from 2020, gardening is not canceled.

So, encourage your customers to make healthy self-care decisions and perhaps break out of ‘goblin mode’ by taking care of their plants (and themselves) this year. Break out the ‘Plants make people happy’ merchandise and shout the health benefits of plants from the rooftops. Showcase your garden center oasis on social media, talk about the stress-reducing impact of houseplants and the health benefits of reconnecting with nature.

Just as customers found comfort in their plant babies during stressful times last year, it looks like they’ll be coming back for more.

Kate Spirgen

January 2023
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