It’s that time again. Horticultural associations that exist mostly to hand out awards to themselves do exactly that. The Perennial Plant Association has announced its pick for 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year. And the winner is — a purple cranesbill geranium! My God! It’s revolutionary! It’s a ground cover, it’s an attractive front of the border specimen plant, it blooms, it creeps around the garden unmolested by pests or disease…in other words, it is — exactly like every other germanium!
Now, there is nothing wrong with the geranium. We like ’em. They bloom a long time, they crowd out weeds, and if you happen to have chickens in the backyard, they will pretty much bloom in spite of the chickens pecking and scratching. But to choose a geranium (in this case, ‘Rozanne’) takes sheer, unfathomable boredom with the plant kingdom. I can think of no other excuse.
The seedsmen, not to be outdone, have names 2008 the Year of Rudbeckia and Eggplant. (The seedsmen are the National Garden Bureau, and such a cozy group are they that they have put an antitrust statement on their website to make it clear that all is aboveboard). Not one to play favorites, the NGB declines to name any particular variety of eggplant or rudbeckia; they simply roll them out and ask that you please grow more of them.
And it’s not like there aren’t interesting plants out there. I point you to Annie’s Annuals, garden goddesses of Northern California, who are discovering so many interesting plants every day that they can’t be bothered with a plant of the year. Instead, they post a Plant of the Month. You could spend all day browsing their POTM archives and not find a single plant that you’re already growing in your garden. Consider Miss January, Cheirolophus burchardii:
"Rare, exciting, fast and easy to grow, this Canary Island native is
evergreen and almost everblooming as well! Quickly growing into a dense
and rounded 4’ tall shrub-like mound, it continually pops out lots of
fluffy globe-shaped lavender flower balls well displayed above the
sturdy branching stems and attractive Spring-green lance shaped leaves.
Drought tolerant, though it looks best in rich well-drained soil with
some summer water, it makes a good sized, nice, round-formed addition
to any garden. Attracts bees and butterflies and makes nice cut flowers
And that’s just THIS MONTH! Really, plant industry associations–if you can’t give us something to get excited about, who will?