Gardeners just aren’t going to take it anymore. Dead plants, that is. It seems that every gardening conversation these days comes down to the plants we’re absolutely, finally through with. (Yeah, sure….) Whether you call the game we’ve been playing zonal denial or “If you aren't out there killing plants you're not really a gardener", people are tired of pulling out corpses and starting over in the spring.
We’ve been lured into marginal-hardiness gardening by a stretch of warm winters, ending abruptly last year and continuing with the ’08-’09 deep freeze. But how to resist all those very cool plants from New Zealand and Australia? Banana trees, hebes, palms and tree ferns work their magic on us. We fell in love, and convinced ourselves that we could grow all kinds of plants that aren’t dependably hardy in Puget Sound region. As we clear away the debris left behind by winter freezes, we feel too keenly the toll on our wallets, our gardens, our hearts.
Everyone has their theories as to why we’ve reached the tipping point on growing lovely marginals like this glossy-leafed, purple-flowered Hebe ‘Amy’, turned to toast in December cold. Some say it’s the economy. Others that exotics have had a good decade-long run; they were a phase like perennials, and now vegetables.
I go with the theory that after a couple of years of cold springs, wet summers, and frigid winters we have a visceral understanding of how unpredictable the weather has become. Exceptional seasons are now the norm. Combine discouraging climate realities with the goal of sustainability, and you have gardeners searching for a more ecologically savvy, regional-appropriate way to garden. What does that mean to you? Are we prepared to quell our experimental spirits? To give up some of those stirring, climate-bending Mediterranean beauties? When does tried-and-true become dull-and-ordinary? Stay tuned…chime in…..let's continue this conversation....