I've been playing with Google Ngram viewer. Basically, google has scanned a huge number of books, and you can search the entire database to see how often a word has been written in the past 200+ years. It is fascinating, and kind of addictive, giving a little window on how much we write and think about different topics.
Here is a chart of the use of "garden" (blue) and "television" (red) from 1800 to 2008
I love where the garden trend is going! Higher than it has been since the 1950s, and eclipsing television for the first time since the '70s. My generation is coming of age, and we're gardening it up!
It is also fun to look at individual plants. Here's hosta:
Maybe the hosta craze is (finally) over?
Heuchera is still going strong:
Turning to tender bulbs, here are dahlia (blue) and gladiolus (red)
I think it is high time for a come back...
In light of the current mania for succulents, I typed in "sedum"
The recent rise, I expected. But a huge spike in 1810? Who knew?
I could keep going on and on... I'm not sure how meaningful this data actually is, but it sure is fun to play with. Play with it yourself here and be sure to let me know in the comments what your favorite results are! (BTW, if you want to recreate my results, you'll have to change to search from 1800 to 2008 -- the default is 1800-2000)