Here’s more of Garden Rant’s softer side, at least as regards the horticultural biz. While, I, like all of you, receive incessant, annoying and always instantly deleted “news” from such companies as Park and Jackson Perkins on a daily basis, there are some unasked-for digital missives from companies that I’m happy to get.
After finally taking the plunge and ordering from Plant Delights last year, I started receiving Tony Avent’s email newsletters—and the emphasis is on letter: 2000-plus words, no pictures, just a few links. Avent sends out long rambling discussions of which plants did well this season at Plant Delights, which ones did not, nursery happenings, and the ongoing top 25 best-selling plants of the year. It’s not just glowing description of plants you have to buy either. I particularly benefited from this advice about hosta, as follows:
As the hosta clumps age, the center of the clump begins to die out. This, combined with the umbrella-shape of many hostas, causes them to naturally shed water. The only remaining living parts are new buds which break on the outer edges of the clump. These newly formed plants become naturally smaller and smaller. When water is scarce, this problem is further exacerbated. The solution is to dig up hostas that have gone backward and choose 3-5 healthy divisions. Bareroot these removing dead root pieces, and replant them into a new hole. The unviable parts of the original clump can be discarded. It is always helpful to add more compost when replanting the new divisions and if possible, find a spot that holds more moisture.
My hostas desperately need division, but I’ll have to wait until next year to do it; they’re too huge now. Avent also apologized about the disastrous failure of the colocasia giagantea Thailand Giant, which is both his most popular—and most unavailable—plant, but held out hope that the restarted plants would be sent out in a week or so. (Let’s hope my plant is among these!) He also regretted transitions in the gardening world such as the passing of such horticultural notables as Dr. Dave Beattie and Geoffrey Charlesworth, and talked about the joys of woodland orchids and martagon lilies.
My kind of newsletter. Another emailing I’ll always at least glance at is the one from Gardener’s Supply. They keep coming up with clever and attractive solar lights and water-conserving pots. How can one resist? And, soon, I know, Old House Gardens will be sending out their irresistible descriptions of rare—and pricey—heirloom bulbs. I’ll try to wait until I see how the lilies I got from them last fall do.
The difference between these communiqués and the repetitive shilling that emanates from lesser vendors is another telling illustration of how dramatic the highs and lows of this industry can get.