A recent post on Garden Rant again had me just shaking my head in disbelief. It was a post that took offense to the phrase “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” which is an easy way to describe a way to plant containers.
The post, which can be read in its entirety here, was by one of the newer “ranters,” Ivette Soler. And like everything on Garden Rant, it was well done and even amusing. She makes her point that the phrase is over used.
But as a garden writer, and lecturer and one who spent several years in the retail garden industry, I can tell you that we need these short hand phrases for a lot of reasons. Perhaps this one is over-done and needs to be retired. But how else to tediously explain time and time again that a great classic container combination begins with a tall plant in the center, then has one or several mid-level plants surrounding that tall plants, and then, at the edge of the pot, has few trailing plants to complete the look?
In my part of the world, I can reference the “geranium-vinca-spike” combination as a shorthand reference rather than use the dreaded words. And then I tell folks, “And now it’s time to get creative. Instead of the spike, here are the plants that work….” You get the idea.
I’ve come up with several other “short-hand” ways to help customers remember things such as when to fertilize with an acid loving fertilizer (I am in New England and we do have all those broad-leafed evergreens that want to “wake up ” and “go to sleep” with that stuff). I would tell them a good gauge would be Income Tax day and Halloween–remember to fertilize around those dates and they’d be fine.
Gardeners today are busier and more distracted than ever. They need to have neat and tidy reminders of things–and they need help! So many of the customers at the garden center would be almost apologetic asking questions. No one should ever have to feel that way, particularly about gardening! It’s supposed to be fun!
The last thing we need is folks taking away helpful reminders because they are trite or they rhyme. As garden writers, we need to be encouraging gardeners, not belittling them!