If you spent five minutes on social media, listening to your news of choice or (gasp!) reading a newspaper the week before Thanksgiving, you likely heard about the benefits of drinking coffee.
A study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that people who drink about three to five cups of coffee a day may be less likely to die prematurely from some illnesses than those who don’t drink or drink less coffee. Benefits include a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes, and suicide.
Coffee lovers now have more justification for their intense fondness of this beverage. I know a lot of you who increase the life expectancy of those around you just by drinking coffee. I can’t begin to guess how many news reports cited this study, nor how many times it was mentioned on social media. But in my tiny microcosm, I saw or heard the headline about 25 times in one day.
I know of something that increases concentration and improves memory; reduces the symptoms of depression; encourages people to exercise; helps people breathe cleaner air; is an amazing vehicle for therapy; and offers natural healing. You already guessed it, but for the sake of the record, the answer is plants. So why don’t research items about plants go viral?
Imagine if Joe and Jane Smith heard even one of those health benefits I mentioned from HuffPo, on their Twitter and Facebook feed, and on their choice of morning news program with as much enthusiasm as the coffee research. Everyone with a dog in the hunt must be a part of the solution to the lack of plant promotion. Breeders, growers (no matter the size) retailers (IGCs and big-box stores), landscape contractors, designers, extension personnel – we can’t sit around thinking someone else will do it.
Contact your local news station or newspaper. For example, ask them, “Did you know a rain garden filters out pollutants and help keep our water supplies clean?” Show pictures and offer a demo.
If you’re not sure how to approach the media or write a press release, contact me and I’ll be more than happy to help! My office number is (817) 386-5053, and you’ll find my email address just below my signature at the end of my column.
We’ve got to act. Get plants in the media spotlight and keep them there.
Victory with bill amendment
If you read my column last month, I discussed the amendment to the transportation bill that would have eliminated federal funding for all landscaping and vegetation management projects on the nation’s highways and roads. Introduced by Representatives Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), it was defeated (255 nays to 172 yeas) after AmericanHort, the American Society of Landscape Architects and others mobilized to put a stop to it.
While it is indeed a victory, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge explains why the amendment is so troubling.
“At its core, the fact that two Republicans (who are friendly to our industry on many other issues) even offered this amendment means that we’ve got a lot of work to do. And, roughly two-thirds of their Republican colleagues voted with them,” he says. “Clearly, the vote underscores that many still see landscape enhancements as pretty but non-essential. Yet we know that functioning landscapes ... filter air and water pollution. They contribute to property values and create a sense of well-being. They sustain pollinators and wildlife. We made these points to Rep. Hartzler and her staff, but she was unmoved.”
[Editor’s note: Case in point regarding keeping plants and their benefits in the media as much as possible.]