Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google Trends of Gardening

Yes, it's winter and I am feeling deprived of dirt and weeding and all things green and growing. In the absence of better things to do, I am getting curious about the statistics of "Garden Googling". Similar to the Google Flu-Watch program, whereby Google can track a flu outbreak by the location of people searching terms that describe flu symptoms, I decided to see who is searching for garden terms and when.

It can be fun to play with the online tools Google Trends or Google Insights for Search. They measure the popularity of particular Google searches, and Google insights for Search allows you to see search trends over time, including data for particular countries, regions, or cities.

I have been interested in the cyclical interest in gardening as I track the interest in my garden blog over the course of a year. Generally, spring is the time for garden excitement. While I should have been busy doing other useful things, I decided to study graphs of the searches for "gardening" around the globe and found some interesting results.

Canada +"gardening" --
Sharp peak consistently in May (higher than the US peak), with notable lows in December. Interpretation: Winter is harsh and the growing season is short. We all but forget gardening in midwinter, but then get instantly excited about gardening shortly after our igloos melt.

United States +"gardening" -- Rounded peak in April, with the December low not as deep as Canada's. Interpretation: American gardeners in the warm south keep up the interest year-round, while a more-prolonged period of increased interest in gardening searches occurs in spring.

Australia +"gardening" -- Gardening search popularity stays quite high year-round (at the same level as Canada's peak), with a bi-phasic pattern of small increases around April and September. Interpretation: I don't understand the southern hemisphere's garden season, but I wish I could visit these garden enthusiasts!

Interpreting "gardening" searches in countries where English is not the most common language is probably not too useful, explaining why there appears to be little garden interest in Japan and China.

The chart below shows that Australia and the United Kingdom are making the most searches for "gardening" as a proportion of all Google searches, averaged over time, for the period from 2004 to present. While those places certainly harbour many avid gardeners, I imagine their milder climates and year-round potential for gardening result in a greater number of searches over the course of a year.

So there you go. Information is power. I suppose these data explain why I can't find a decent selection of products in plant places at this time of year...


Chookie said...

Gardenista, autumn and spring are the peak gardening activity times in temperate Australia (where most of us live). Summer is too hot for heavy work and winter is too chilly to be planting. In Sydney, we plant perennials in autumn so that their root systems are ready to cope with our summer. Further south, they plant in early spring. In summer, people are preoccupied with tomatoes, fruit fly and watering. HTH!

Melanie said...

Interesting statistics How is your winter going. over here in Northern BC we are having unseasonably above zero temperatures. Everywhere is icy and slippery. I hope to return to winter soon :)

Gardenista said...

Chookie - I hope to visit Australia someday. The flowers there look like they're from another planet!
Melanie - We are having a bit of a warmer period. This week, we get highs of -3. That's pretty warm!

Kate said...

A garden tour of Australia is on my must-do list, as well. Good to hear it is warming a bit for you. When does gardening season begin that far north?

Gardenista said...

For me, gardening begins in May when the spring bulbs are really getting going. We can't plant out anything tender until the second week of June though, to avoid late frosts.

Ottawa Gardener said...

I love it when statistics explains well the obvious ;) I am waiting, impatiently, for seeds to hit the shelves. Mostly I've moved my seed purchases to online and trading but don't 'they' know that you have to start some plants in December?

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