Burnett: Change comes to gardens quickly

Preferences change in gardens as the choice in plants blossoms.

When I sit down with clients to discuss plant choices it becomes apparent my own preferences come to the fore.

Is this a bad thing? I suppose it could be; however, I must say these preferences change from year to year and if they didn’t how boring that would be?

Trends in plant preferences can’t help affect my own partiality and over the years I’ve made huge shifts, such as recommending far more woody ornamentals (shrubs) back in the 1960s, ’70, and ’80s to now suggesting herbaceous border plants (perennials) as being the new norm.

The introduction of ornamental grasses in the early 1990s was definitely mind-shifting and our industry gravitating to new varieties of old traditional plants has made this an exciting time to be in the business.

When I was just getting my feet wet back in the ’60’s there may have been about a handful of Heuchera (coral bells) varieties whereas now there are so many it becomes a bit confusing.

Good old Rudbeckia (black eyed Susan) is not the same as it was only a couple of decades ago with several new longer-blooming varieties.

I see though, a resurgence in flowering shrubs happening at a steady rate with the introduction of varieties which stay relatively small. That was always the difficulty with them when they outgrew their space in most gardens and needed to be sheared into cubes and balls. New varieties of Weigela, PG Hydrangeas and Spiraea have enabled us to place these traditional plants in smaller spots while maintaining the integrity of form.

When I sit down with people to help with plant choices I now focus on the following criteria.

• Is the plant well behaved; in other words is it free of disease and insect concerns and does it stay in one spot not spread all over the place by seed or root growth?

• Does the plant have longevity of interest such as a long-blooming season or foliar appeal?

• Is it the right plant for the right space?

• And, of course, does it appeal after all that to my client?

With today’s focus on preserving our water resources, drought tolerance is another criteria to consider.

 

 

Chelsea Flower Show

Here is some exciting news that will surely take me and the fortunate others who take the opportunity to travel to the Chelsea Flower Show next May to new heights in plant awareness.

The trip is scheduled to leave the Kelowna Airport on May 19, 2016 and travel to London England where we gorge ourselves on a feast of world famous gardens and historical places including a train trip north to Scotland and the home of golf at St Andrews.

We arrive back home June 1 when I’m sure I will have enough new information to keep me writing and teaching for a long time.

We have an information meeting planned for this Thursday, Oct. 1 at 12:30 p.m. at The Best Western 2402-hwy 97 North, in Kelowna, so if you wish to join us please RSVP Gail Fritsen at Marlin Travel gail.fritsen@marlintravel.ca or call 250-768-6875 or toll free number 1-800-800-2857.

This is a gardener’s trip of a lifetime to the largest flower show in the world in a country that has an unsurpassed history of gardening and gardens.

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