I wear about seven different hats [teacher, writer, speaker, plant researcher, owner of his own perennial business, and more], and I’m really involved in the industry. I’m disturbed by much of what I see happening. “Gardening” has become a hated word. People think it’s too much work. Landscaping is in; gardening is out. As for vegetable gardening, I think it’s always been popular and always will be. It gets talked about a lot now. I would say that it’s stronger today than it was three years ago.
Ultimately, the plant is still the currency. We—the researchers, the growers, the distributors, the retailers—have to give the consumer a chance of success. But too often, it’s about the color of the containers, about the lifestyle.
What about garden writers? Can they be too close to the industry?
I work with breeders, selectors, producers, and I write an article every month for Fine Gardening. I’m out there speaking on a regular basis. I think it’s scary when I go into a bookstore and I see all these books and I don’t know who these people are.
Anything else for our readers?
The biggest oxymoron I think is “serious gardening.” We need to understand that gardening is not serious. If you kill something, move on—plant something else. This book won’t make you a better gardener, but we really tried to make it a good read. My editor Judy Marriott Laushman deserves a lot of the credit for that.
Armitage has promised to respond to your comments here, so if you have thoughts about Herbaceous Perennial Plants or anything brought up here, go ahead.
ADDENDUM: And here’s a P.S. for those who may not be familiar with Allan Armitage. He’s famous for his authoritative books on perennials, as discussed here, but he is also well-known as a researcher who has introduced such cultivars as ipomoea “Margarita,” verbena “Homestead Purple,” ruellia “Ragin’ Cajin,” and dicentra “Athens Yellow” to the market. He even has his own plant line, Athens Select. So when he says he knows the industry, that’s what he means. It’s interesting and somewhat curious to me—in the art world, which I know well, you have the painters, the curators, and the critics; rarely does one person do all three. But plants are different, and I can see how this hands-on experience makes it possible for Armitage to share such a reliable body of knowledge such as that found in Herbaceous Perennial Plants. Finally, Chris C. asks if we’ll have one of the books to give away. I am sure we will. Watch for that post.
UPDATE: I will have 2 books to give away and the contest for them will happen on Sunday.