The lone voice of horticultural reason

Welcome, comrades.

Day after tomorrow, the world!

RENEGADE GARDENER is the Web’s best site for gardeners seeking truth, hope, and one lousy sign that someone unfettered by industry prejudice is helping you become a better gardener.

Originally designed to help gardeners banished to the forgotten USDA Zones 2-4, bold content has made it one of the Web’s most-linked gardening sites. Gardening is gardening, design is design, dumb is dumb, and truth conquers all!

Is Gardening Dead?

Gardening, as I have said a hundred times in an equal number of variations across the pages of this ancient website, is not easy. Now I’m beginning to fear that gardening has become the problem child of hobbies—sometimes smiling and cheerful, other times angry and self-centered. The child is obedient to a request by parents to accompany them to a movie on the same day he/she secretly was truant from school.

Beginning gardeners fail to some degree, all the time. This problem-child hobby disappoints. That veteran gardeners also fail is unknown to these beginners. Failures by veteran gardeners are minor and occur far less often. We raised the same problem child, you see, just stuck to astute parenting long enough to watch the kid grow out of the phase where at 16 he’s sneaking our booze and throwing up in the bathroom. Graduating college and landing a good job, our problem child visits now and then. We all laugh about what a screwed up kid he was.

Failure at gardening by new gardeners is normal, essential, obligatory. It’s par for the course. But no one tells them this.

That’s a big reason why gardening is dying, or to be kinder – since people will always garden to some degree somewhere – is in a slow and steady decline. The numbers prove it, both in annual expenditures on gardening related products and services in the US, as well as in the total number of Americans who willingly call themselves gardeners.

The hobby faces the same problem faced by Major League Baseball: not enough young fans. The people who most love gardening and practice it at its highest levels are growing feeble, dying out.

How do we cultivate the next generations of gardeners?


Current Column will be updated from the Archives on January 1.

The Books Are Back

Annuals for Minnesota and Wisconsin
Tree and Shrub Gardening for Minnesota and Wisconsin
Perennials for Minnesota and Wisconsin
Best Garden Plants for Minnesota and Wisconsin
Gardening Month by Month in Minnesota and Wisconsin

The Renegade Gardener is Don Engebretson, an award-winning Minnesota garden writer and designer.

The Story of the Renegade Gardener

NEW! Click HERE for Don’s 2020 
national speaking schedule


The 10 Tenets of Renegade Gardening

Full version is required reading: CLICK HERE.

  1. Gardening should be challenging, relaxing, and fun.
  2. Renegade Gardeners are cautious and wise when perusing the plethora of products and plants sold by the commercial gardening industry.
  3. Gardening involves commitment.
  4. Renegade Gardeners learn the Latin names of the plants they grow.
  5. Gardening is not always easy.
  6. Renegade Gardeners come to realize that lawns are essentially a dumb idea.
  7. Gardening and rock music do not mix.
  8. Renegade Gardeners buy first from local growers.
  9. There is nothing wrong with cutting down a tree on your property.
  10. Irreverence is essential.