Two things got me to thinking (always dangerous–the last thing I want to be doing in the dead of winter is thinking!). The first is a lecture I give called “Trade Secrets: An Insider talks about How Plants Come to Market.” I gave the talk at the end of January and I’ll give it again at the beginning of March and I’m continually revising it as my own test plants come in and I evaluate them, as I learn more about the plant evaluation process, and as I see what “new” plants are being trialled (hint–heucheras or coral bells are out; kniphofias or red hot pokers are now the plant du jour. Either way, both are only marginally hardy for most so save your money).
The second thing was reading through this enormous backlog of gardening magazines that I have. I subscribe to 5 different magazines. That’s not a huge number, but it’s a good sample. As I said Friday, it’s a great way to spend winter evenings. It’s also a great way to see that either most of the garden writers have very little to say that’s new (I mean, please–3 articles on edging in the last year?! Yawn!) Perhaps the editors think there’s a great need for the public to edge garden beds. I have no idea. But I can tell you that those went into the recycle bin pretty fast.
I suppose as a gardener with fairly mature beds and not a lot of room to design (or re-design, unless a snowplow comes along and changes my plans every so often. Or a snow storm. Or a hurricane. But I digress), I have very little need for a lot of “garden design” articles, particularly articles that tell me how I should design stupid things like where to park my car. I mean, really. I suppose some folks might need such help but that is the last thing I need help with.
To be fair, the designed space was spectacular. But I’m guessing a lot of that magazine’s readers don’t live in cramped urban quarters with tiny spots that have to do double duty as a car park and a court yard and there was some suggestion that it was even a sheltered spot to sit and read a book. Again, really? Where the car parks? Perhaps for some, but not for me.
As I always say, however, if we all liked the same thing, we’d have a very boring world.
With the last issue of a different magazine I was holding, I showed the cover to the Spoiler and asked, “What do you think of this?” His response was “Looks like a meadow. Or the woods.” It was two perennial borders with ornamental grasses and lots of tall natives, bisected by a stepping stone walk between going to some sort of hedge at the back. Luckily we won’t have the need to install anything like that anytime soon. Also luckily we do have some woods so our native plants blend in a bit for him I guess. (And guess what–that garden was in the Netherlands. Do these editors think American gardens should look like the Netherlands? Really? How about they get a little less regional too? I’m getting really sick of California and the Pacific Northwest. I can’t grow that stuff!)
But it just goes to show, either I’ve completely outgrown what these magazines are trying to do, or there really is nothing new in gardening lately and we, as garden writers need to try to come up with some thing different. Anyone up to the task?