Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Our mothers’ gardens
In reviewing some of the responses to “least favorite plants,” I noticed some negative fervor directed towards bedding annuals. Apparently, some people can’t even bear to walk by impatiens in the garden center. Others refer to geraniums as “the hideous ones.”
I feel their pain, and I do understand those aversions. I used to feel many of them myself. In fact, I remember scorning annuals when I moved into the GWI property seven years ago. I boasted to my mother that I would have a perennial garden, no common flowers for me. But there was a time when I looked at the bright hanging baskets and beds of annuals that my mother, my aunts, and their friends created and thought that’s what gardening was. Years ago, when all I had was a third floor patio to work with, my mother came over and set me up with some hanging petunias, some geraniums, a potted hibiscus, some ageratum and nicotiana (common hybrids, not the species nicotiana I go in for now), and a sunflower growing out of an old enamel coffepot. That was all the garden I thought I would ever need.
Now, faced with the realities of a very shady street, brutally overplanted with red maples, I recognize the saving grace and the welcome color that even impatiens can bring. I realize that I would never want a completely perennial garden, and that old-fashioned annuals can add great charm. (It’s true though, that most nurseries offer a very sad selection of bedding annuals, so I seek out exceptional cultivars online and elsewhere, something my mother never would have thought of doing.)
God help me, I'm even growing zinnias this summer.
(Even these common little violas—what a nice scent they had earlier this evening!)