Thursday, January 29, 2009
Winter vacations for plants
As we Northern gardeners go about our off-season business, watering our small collections of houseplants, poring over seed catalogs, and visiting conservatories, the business of growing goes on. Minutes from our houses, hot, steamy greenhouses are teaming with vibrant plant life, tended by professionals.
I visited a friend recently who actually maintains a summer patio garden filled with small tropical trees or such warmer zone plants as jasmines, citrus, and so on. At the end of the season these plants are all picked up by a local greenhouse, which takes care of them for her all winter. In the late spring, the truck arrives and unloads them back into her garden. She's also got a subtle and unique little water feature, as you see above. As counterintuitive and perhaps non-sustainable as that may sound, I find the whole notion rather seductive. I love tropical and warm zone plants (I think tropical has to be below a certain latitude, but I’m hoping you’ll give me the latitude to stretch the term a bit) like banana, olive, mandavilla, jasmine, ylang ylang, aglaia, and many others. I’d love to sit on the patio in summer and be surrounded by the fragrance.
Oh, I suppose I should be satisfied with zone 5 perennials, many of which are surely fragrant enough—indeed some of my visitors assume my oriental lilies are not winter-hardy. But I may look into storing just a few big tropicals at a greenhouse myself. Until then, I’ll have to keep dragging unwieldy pots of jasmine, musa, and gardenia—along with others—down the stairs and outside every year. I am sure around this time of year, they'd rather be enjoying a luxurious vacation in some greenhouse with lots of caretakers tending to their every need!