That’s what a bloggers’ meet-up is good for. Not too many people here in Buffalo really want to hear my pet plant peeves—for very long anyway—but during last weekend’s Buffa10 meet-up, I was able to freely vent with such equally outspoken gardeners/garden writers as Susan Cohen, Michele Owens, and many others about interesting topics like:
Hydrangeas that can’t make up their minds
I like these to pick a color and stick with it. Two things make me crazy: 1., the sickly bluish-pinky-gray hydrangeas that I see everywhere; and 2., the people who look at my unfashionably strong pink ones and say “Oh, you must add x or y to get that color.” I don’t add anything to my acidic soil except compost, but I do buy varieties such as “Alpenglow” and “Forever Pink” (not “Forever and Ever”) that are supposed to be the color they stay. The problem is that hydrangea fads dictate that you can never find certain varieties in nurseries from year to year. These days I simply recommend that people buy arborescens or the cool paniculata and quercifolia varieties. You can find macrophyllas with good color via mail order, but the small ones take a long time to mature in a climate like this—or
never make it at all.
This came up a lot over the weekend. Susan C. wondered if the aggressive color choices that you see—not only on typical painted lady clapboard houses, but also the painted brick Italianates—helped provide relief from winter grayness. Now, that is an interesting question. I’m not sure. Winter interest here tends to be built around sports, cultural pursuits, and staying inside by the fire.
No, I think the creativity with the houses comes from the sheer chutzpah of many of the resolute urbanites who live and garden here. We do it because we can and because it’s fun. When warm weather comes, the streets explode with color from flowers and the structures they surround. But without the gardens, I don’t think I’d care about the houses as much.
Speaking of explosions
An on-going discussion is structure and formality in the garden. We have magazines in and out of here all summer long and expect some big names to be featuring Bflo gardens this year. But many of the gardens they gravitate to—all of them are cool, of course—focus more on hardscaping than others. I totally see why this happens—it is more interesting to explain how these structures interact and why they work so well. Plants are not the
important thing. I still like lush though, and my favorite gardens are ones like Ellie’s in the Cottage District, where I am surrounded by texture and color.
It’s all good because it’s fun to talk about. And disagreement only adds spice.