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!)

1 comment:

CBenedix said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your blog on "Our mothers' gardens" and "A loss for us all". Great blogs and extremely well written.

Living in the pine tree filled country near Havana Florida where annuals such as impatiens are the few flowers we can enjoy (when the azaleas and dogwoods aren't in bloom ;-).