Speaking My Mind

It’s that time of the year when the various “must have plants for 2011” lists start appearing in plant catalogues and other horticultural resources.  Oh, the pressure is on to have the “right” plants in our gardens and to be “on trend”!

Well, we’ve all seen someone wearing the latest fashion and have observed that it does not suit the wearer and often doesn’t even fit very well.  Is there a danger that, along with so much in today’s world, our gardens are going to become slaves to fashion – the horticultural equivalent of models teetering down the runway on impossibly high heels?

We should remember that the various “must have” lists that are generated at this time of year are often arbitrary, with the goal of parting consumers with their money.  There are certainly numerous lists, such as “top twenty perennials”, that are indeed perennial lists rather than of the “in today, out tomorrow” variety.  However, even these are subjective.  At Russell Nursery, some of us absolutely love pink, others can’t stand it.  We laugh about it because this is exactly the kind of difference of opinion that results in wonderful, unique, distinctly personal gardens.  What really is the point of filling our gardens with pink blooms because it’s the colour of the year, if we hate pink?

Perhaps we should resolve to trust our own instincts about what we like, at the same time reserving the right to change our minds!  I’m not sure I will ever form a deep affection for Dahlias!  After all, there are no hard and fast rules in our own gardens.  We can do what we like.  Sure, we’ll try a plant pick for 2011 because we like it and our research tells us it will do well in our own gardens; not because it is “the plant to have”.  A good nursery will first and foremost provide informed, knowledgeable advice we can trust about what will grow well in our climate and in the micro climates of our own gardens, as well as offer exciting new plant selections.

Trends are transitory and if we slavishly follow the trends we could well end up with gardens that are merely historical representations of the fads down the years.  Picks for 2011 lists will be replaced with plant picks for 2012.  Should the “old hat” 2011 selection be pulled up to make room for the new?

The best gardens are the ones that give us joy and satisfaction because they are a reflection of own personal aesthetic and therefore uniquely ours.