Garden prejudices

Bees gathering pollen and nourishment from one of the sunflowers I planted in the vegetable garden.

I wandered over to Hayefield today, and read Nan’s post on her garden and personal journey. It made me consider my own garden, and how it’s changed over the years. I bought an app today, Day One, so I could journal about which plants perform best along with their names. I’m lapse at keeping a print journal, and I’m constantly at the computer. It seemed a good fit.

My garden was once very different. I was a different gardener. I was a collector of roses and daylilies, and I sometimes still fall into that mode especially when they bloom. I wish I were stronger, but resistance is futile.

The red fountain that sits at the center of the vegetable garden known as the potager.

I had a lot of “hates” in the garden, and a bunch of rules, most of which I’ve now broken. I could be quite snobbish about certain plants. Ah, the luxury of being a garden snob. Some of the plants I wouldn’t grow were snooty themselves. Take hostas for example, I once was completely against them. I think it’s because they were planted so often in shade gardens, and in our heat, they usually looked like hell mid-summer. Later, I learned some hostas could withstand our summer furnace with a watering system.

Choose those with substance like ‘Guacamole’ or the standard blue that looks nice in shade. I now grow quite a few hostas, but I don’t go for the newest thing. My climate forbids it.

Colocasia esculenta ‘Coffee Cups’ has returned in my garden for two seasons even though I didn’t dig it up. It also multiplied.

Honestly, though, if you live south and want that big look, I think elephant ears are much more manageable. Sure, they don’t return every year, but they are great summer plants. We have a very long summer, and colocasias fit the bill. As our summers get hotter, I think we need to look to great, tropical plants with interesting foliage. Blooms are hard to come by in this heat. The only drawback is they need water. They don’t mind a bit of drought, but they want a long drink afterward.

C. esculenta ‘Blue Hawaii’ with Verbena bonariensis and red amaranth in a southern garden. This is definitely on my must have list.

Another plant I hated? Cannas, and I felt bad because Oklahoma has one of the largest canna farms in the U.S., Horn Canna Farm. They are canna hybridizers, and we even have a canna festival, for Pete’s sake. Once again, I think it was their messiness. I always saw cannas planted in hell strips around town, and they looked like poop on a stick, their leaves all ratty-tatty, with sad blooms blown about by the wind.

Containers of coleus and cannas in Indianapolis, IN. I now grow the striped and dark red cannas. I cut off the blooms when they become tatty.

Then, one fine day, I saw cannas with dark red leaves, and I was hooked by their scrumptious foliage. It’s difficult to find large leaves in a prairie garden, and cannas have such large, smooth leaves. Bear, who loves photography, will take photos of them in macro when it rains. She likes how the drops bead up on the leaves. I still don’t like canna blooms all that much, and as soon as they start to go coyote ugly, I cut them off. It’s okay to be brutal with plants. They seem to like a little S&M treatment now and then.

Red Canna leaf

Now, you know some of my former garden prejudices. Next time, I’ll reflect upon those plants that inspire passion. I’m sure you can guess a few of them already. Till next time, hang in there. Fall can’t come too soon.

25 Replies to “Garden prejudices”

  1. I think plants are just like books (or people!) – some we like, some we don’t, and we can’t always say the reason. Mostly I love what grows at my house. I’m even a fan of tansy and goldenrod and milkweed. They live right among the phlox and iris and day lilies. I think a farm garden out in the country is more forgiving in a way. Natural fits here. And fits me. :<)

  2. In general I don’t really like cannas. However, I love Canna Tropicana for the beautiful striped leaves, and then the bright orange blooms when they happen. I planted one 3 years ago, never dug it up, and was so surprised when it came back! And multiplied. They are really beautiful, when most everything else here in Kansas City is looking awful! ( I do water them every couple of days to keep them looking so good)

    I totally agree about changing our likes and dislikes over the years!
    It definitely keeps gardening more interesting too!

  3. I love your colocasia, but when I tried it I realized it is just too cold at the End of the Road. What I’ve learned over the past 30 plus years is not to fight my climate. At least, not to often.

  4. Dee I’m finding that my garden likes and dislikes are really starting to change too. Plants I once absolutely loved I’m not now looking at and saying, “Okay, I’m bout to snatch you outta here. “ I love my daylilies and Irises but lately they don’t seem to be performing well and even in the spring the ratty foliage is starting to get the best of me. I’m tempted to start over with one of my largest beds and put in completely new plantings… we will see… right now the only thing keeping me from doing it is that almighty dollar sign that keep flashing in my mind.

  5. We gardeners have very strong likes and dislikes, don’t we ? Trying to be very diplomatic I used to say to clients, ” You don’t LIKE this thing do ya ? 🙂 ” One prejudice I know I’ll NEVER, EVER overcome is red mulch even if an artist/gardener tells me it represents a ” sea of blood. “-) “

  6. Yes, cannas do look like poop on a stick…especially this time of year. I think we all evolve over time and conditions in which we garden.
    I do like elephant ears…we have a few wet areas that they really thrive. Feels very tropical.

  7. Vinca major is one of my least favorite plants. I have maintenance prejudices on Hydrangeas(they wilt too easily). Currently I have perilla which reseeds too much(bad), and globe basil whidh reseeds too much(good).

  8. Oh yes, how much we change! Isn’t that such an essential part of our journey? We love a plant, we hate a plant, we fall in love in love with a plant we thought we hated. Plants let us change. Love ya, and that won’t change!

    1. Yes, I think gardening is a pattern for life in general. Maybe that’s why it is mentioned so much in the Bible. I think about that a lot when I’m outside. Gardening is life. Love you too, and that won’t change.

  9. This was a funny post. 🙂 I can’t stand cannas at all and shrubs butchered into balls and squares make me want to scream. What I can’t comprehend is why people plant hostas in full sun?? There should be some type of warning system that prevents them from buying plants they’re going to torture.

    1. I’m with you on the shearing of shrubs. I like my shrubs to look natural. I don’t like topiary, and I have a confession . . . I don’t like fairy gardens. Just not my thing. You sure can’t grow hostas in sun here. They would turn into hosta chips. Glad I made you laugh!

  10. Dee, You already know how I feel about natives…They are my soul-mate plants! I us them when ever I can and when ever they thrive. My growth has been toward allowing some non-natives a place at the table! Especially to fill the holes between the bloom times of the natives. Today I bought an abelia! The bees love it and I like the color. it will replace a non-performing native ‘Grey Owl’ Juniper. xogail

    1. Gail, that’s so interesting. It’s good to have things growing and blooming no matter the season. I have Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope,’ and the bees are all over it. I know you’ll like yours. Although I have some junipers, I’m not a big fan. I bet, in your climate, your abelia might stay evergreen, another plus.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen pictures of your neighbor’s red cannas. They don’t work with your garden scheme. You could just reach across the fence with some long-handled shears and take care of that offensive bit you know. LOL!

  11. I hate ‘Stella de Oro’ lilies with a passion, simply because everyone uses them, everywhere, all the time. I also used to dislike day lilies, but then I found that they’re perfect for those tough areas in the garden.

    I’m in LOVE with hydrangeas, I’m on the edge of where they thrive, they need a little extra care here. Thankfully at my new house in Maine they should thrive, which I’m super excited about.

    And I too dislike cannas.

    I’ll have to check out that app, I too am a little less than perfect at keeping up with my garden journal.

    1. Okay, I totally hate ‘Stella D’Oro’ daylilies, and you’ll never convince me differently. They are over planted here also, and they dont’ even bloom that well here. I hate monocultures anyway. I love the app. Congrats on the new house. I want to live in Maine. I really do in the summertime.

  12. It is a sign of garden maturity, maybe even human maturity to give things a chance that you once turned your nose up at. My neighbor once told me she loved all the garden colors together, all mixed up. I thought that was terrible. Now I agree with her. Maturity, or older eyes beginning to fail, who’s to tell?

    1. Faire, that’s so funny you should mention the mixed-up colors. I like brighter color than ever before, and I wonder if it’s because I’m getting older. I also love “old lady” flowers now, and I never thought I would. Funny.

  13. “Poop on a stick” — I’ve never heard a bloom described that way, but I know what you mean. I’ve got a long list of prejudices in the garden, which I know my surprise you.Some I’ve overcome, others I still have. Perhaps I’ll write about them and link back to you!

    1. Yes, that’s exactly what they look like. No one ever deadheads them either. Mine are deadheaded . . . sometimes live headed for that matter. No poop on a stick in my garden!

  14. I actually was against many natives like Joe Pye, Obedient and goldenrod because they moved all over the garden…even Susans were just so plain…but I have come to love them and many other great performing natives that bring me joy and do so well in our climate…

    1. Donna, I know what you mean. I thought they were boring. Well, no longer. I love the natives. They keep pumping out blooms even when the mercury hits a high point.

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