Monday, February 2, 2009

A "Sense of Place" in Gardening

I'm finally able to wrap up some things from the Southeastern Flower Show, though my garage still contains a giant tub of plants sitting in moist soil that came out of a number of different containers; one of tomorrow's projects is repotting those things to utilize them in some cool summer display.
I spent much more time at the show this year than I typically do, which gave me the opportunity to really look at some of the awesome exhibits in great detail. The show was smaller this year, but I felt it was much more appealing in lots of ways, as well.

On one of my many forays into the bookseller's booth, I picked up a book called "Great Gardens Great Designers," which starts out talking about how people changed their style of gardening in England at the turn of the last century; specifically they were responding to the Victorian collecting of exotics, and moving in a direction that was geared more to native plants, hardy plants, etc., that were more typical of England. The lightbulb went off for me that this is the same pattern we're seeing now, and it's why there was a certain comfort in this year's display gardens at the SEFS.

It was a treat to see so many gardens that were realistic for Atlanta, and weren't a collection of exotics that need to be disassembled in September to be crammed into the greenhouse for the winter. It seemed that many of the designers featured more of the things that do really well here -- lorapetalum in a million forms, lots of conifers that have proven their value here, azaleas, rhododendrons, gardenias, and such. It was also great to see very little turf being used in the display gardens....let's face it, there is nothing easy about growing a great lawn in Atlanta! What a radical idea to promote plants that actually do well here! Why not have a garden that identifies itself as an Atlanta style, rather than tropical, Mediterranean, or desert?

I was very proud to have only purchased two new plants for my garden at this year's show. First I got an amazing pine (Pinus densiflora "Aurea") with chartreuse needles that is going to be amazing against a backdrop of magnolias and hollies in my garden; second, I got several "Bramble Ferns," which are native. Anyone who know me is clear that I'm not one of the native plant geeks, but this fern is just beautiful, growing about 3 feet tall in and around camellias, pines, azaleas, etc. It's my new filler plant, to bring some sense of order to my wooded if that's possible.....

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