Now that gardening (more and more) equals a.) a bigger focus on growing your own vegetables, and b.) not watering, feeding, or otherwise unnaturally fussing over your super-hardy, sustainable (native where possible) perennials, trees and shrubs, I’m beginning to feel a bit left out.
For me, gardening has always been an artificial business, and not what anyone would call sustainable, except in that it sustains my need for a garden with plants I like. I’ve always tried to create a lush, colorful oasis where such ought never to have existed. My first garden was on a third floor porch, and I guess I’ve carried on from there, making the previously impossible possible, embracing tropical plants, exotic blooms, and in every other way denying the reality of my surroundings: pavement, urban noise, cold winters, and too much shade from buildings and trees.
That’s why I love the Victorian garden ideal and my model gardener continues to be the late Christopher Lloyd, who—even when he tried to create a “meadow”—followed one of the most continually staged and labor-intensive regimes I have ever heard of and loved to bring in tropicals whenever he could. The only thing where I am maybe a bit ahead of the curve is that I have no water-and-chemical-devouring grass. Yeah. Except, truth be told, there wasn’t any grass when I moved onto the property, so bragging rights may not apply.
Even today, when I went to a nearby garden center on my lunch hour, I spent almost all my time in the greenhouse, picking up a jasmine and some weird-looking houseplants that will accept shade and cover the knees of my big banana plant.
All this is not to say that when I write about native plants, veggie-growing, and conservation, no one should pay attention. Quite the opposite. As Michele has just implied (funny–I was just thinking the same thing about the Times), we are living through a very exciting moment in gardening—being part of that discussion is valuable for its own sake, whether one follows all the recommendations or not.
Um, why did I get into all this? Oh right—I got a comment on my own blog that Buffalo’s old-fashioned botanical gardens were OK if you were 70. Ouch.