So here’s the rest of the poem, following on from Monday’s post. My point was that if real plants were truly in danger of being superseded, the media and the nurseries had to take partial responsibility for devaluing or underselling both the depth and breadth of the appeal of gardening.
Well over a decade ago the Horticultural Media Association in NSW asked me to contribute to a kind of debate called ‘Gardens of the Future will have no plants’. The timing was perfect, as Leo Schofield had recently passed on to me an article from a US newspaper about a garden made entirely of plastic plants. In this garden, the plastic wisteria had plastic flowers added and then removed, in season. I called the store that supplied the plants, and it was extraordinary how many different kinds were available “thirty two different hydrangeas at all stages of growth” they boasted. I asked about lavender “Oh ‘erbs? you want ‘erbs? We have hundreds of different ‘erbs’!”
I think I’m past the plant snobbery phase. You kind of have to let it go when you observe yourself starting to really enjoy plants again that you once dismissed, and so accept what you’ve suspected for some time – that your opinions are highly unstable, and you may as well just adopt a default setting of more of less enjoying everything.
I really should have learned by now that the satisfaction/fun/pleasure returns from any particular job in the garden are nearly impossible to predict. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve put off doing something – sometimes for an outrageous length of time – only to find that I’ve really enjoyed doing it when I finally faced it.
For several totally disconnected reasons I’m back in the zone of thinking about plant-driven gardens vs design-driven gardens. If you were here, I wouldn’t be able to resist telling you each of the reasons why I’m back on this, as I have a very firmly entrenched and irritating habit of wanting to explain all the thinking that led up to the current mind-set. The fact that you’re spared reading it all is not so much an act of mercy as an act of laziness. I just can’t be bothered writing it all. Just trying to be honest…
Some time in the next couple of weeks – if these berserk winds don’t blow it over first – I’ll flower, for the first time, the very proud and stately Verbascum splendidum. The build up has been richly satisfying itself, with the huge silver rosette bolting up to a great flower stem surrounded by wide clasping leaves with an elegant caudate tip that overlap like pointed titanium scales.
Just before Christmas I was telling a friend that I’d spotted and lusted over a stunning plant of Clematis x jackmanii ‘Superba’ in our local nursery, and, though I’d planned to plant one in this garden for a while, I hadn’t bought it, for reasons that I may or may not disclose later in this post (depending on whether I can work out how to make them sound less lame).