Over my adult lifetime, I have bought — and killed — enough plants, shrubs, and trees to stock a good-sized nursery.
Those of us cursed with the gardening compulsion (or fantasy, as someone once characterized it) want it all: We see gorgeous garden photos in the slick magazines and we foolishly envision ourselves duplicating them — beautiful flowers in every nook and cranny, a lush, green lawn, gorgeous roses, handsomely manicured accent shrubs, stately trees, a water lily pool, maybe a fountain, and of course, space for veggies that will put the supermarket imitations to shame.
IT’S FREE! Stay informed on what’s happening in Mid-South agriculture: Subscribe to Delta Farm Press Daily.
To walk into a garden center at this time of year is akin to proffering cocaine to a drug addict: everywhere beautiful blooms, intriguing plants, just waiting to be taken home.
Alas, one learns over the years the harsh reality that there is a light year’s difference in magazine photos of gardens in California or Oregon or the eastern mountains or Jolly Old England than in Mississippi’s sweltering, humidity-dripping summers, and that plants that thrive in rich, humusy soils consider our predominantly clayey dirt the equivalent of botanical Hades.
One also learns, to one’s dismay, that flowers, shrubs, and trees that actually do well in our climate and soils too often do too well.
I have read any number of articles, and heard one or another gardening guru expound on the joys of the perennial garden — just plant ‘em once, they come back year after year, and they multiply.
What the gurus/experts do not warn is that they multiply, and multiply, and multiply.
And ere long that nice clump of chrysanthemums has become chrysanthemums amok, the irises have spread all over creation, the daisies, daylilies, cannas, coreopsis, phlox, and other once-coveted plants are now bent on world domination. The result: One is constantly digging up plants, some of which have roots so thick and deep dynamite is required to remove them, and friends and neighbors run and hide to avoid yet another offer of one’s excess plants.
So, now my late-learned resolve is to buy only annuals: begonias, coleus, marigolds — plants that live one glorious season, then die when winter comes. Just pull ‘em up, throw ‘em away.
Next spring, the garden centers will have brand new ones…