|Mugo and clematis|
Shrubs That Were Once “On Fire”
I started thinking about this when looking at my two mugo pines. The phrase “in their heyday” came up in my mind, and it got me following a rabbit trail of considering the different plant fads I’d observed through the years. Bradford Pear trees, mugo pines, Euonymous elata aka “Burning Bush”, and those previous to my own gardening career: forsythias and Tartarian honeysuckle. Those are among but a few of the woody plantings that last long after the fad has passed.
Fashion in gardening is not a bad thing in itself, but it is shortsighted, and that is not very advantageous when working with something that has a potential lifespan longer than your own.
Fashion does not take such terms as “health”, “appropriate”, or time units such as “decades” into consideration when going forward. By its very definition it is more about image than substance. If a plant fashion becomes a “classic” it is more by accident than by intent.
Broken Pear Trees
Take the Bradford pear trees, for instance. Once considered a top quality “city tree” because the shiny leaves, spring flowering, compact shape, and freedom from fruit were very desirable qualities which created a fashion for it.
I remember a suburb that lined its main thoroughfare with them. However, some windstorms later, the weakness of this tree, its proclivity to split off large branches and become misshapen (not to mention potential harm) led to a wholesale removal of these trees. Now most Bradford pear trees are on a list of undesirables.
Stella D’Oro Daylilies Fade Away From Favor
Of course, many plant fads just fade away, without anything more notorious than be being overused. ‘Stella D’Oro’ daylilies strike a chord with anyone as an example?
I don’t suppose there is anything to be done about the propensity we human beings have for becoming obsessed and inured by turn with all sorts of fickle interests and passions, but the wise gardener can keep the more mundane, yet important, principles of using plants in the environment uppermost in their thinking and planning.
That would go a long way to prevent the most glaring of plant fad mistakes and regrets.
Maybe it is all a matter of keeping in mind that nature, living things, are more than just material in the hands of our making. There is an integrity to how we all are interdependent in the human, animal, plant world and our relation to even the inorganic parts of our globe.
And it isn’t even ours as in “ownership”, but rather as “stewardship”. We have a certain responsibility to the care and nurture of it, and while “prettifying” things has its place in our use and cultivation… it also has bounds of reason that makes for the true nature of beauty. We can get sort of crazy in our ideas otherwise, and it just doesn’t work out well for the long run.
The “long run”, the stretch of generations, is how we ought to look at the impact of our use of the earth, even while we have a bit of fun with the types and colors of petunias and roses.
These were just a few thoughts that were sparked by my garden, and those two mugos… one of the first things planted in my yard.
Look around your own yard with an eye towards the benefits that plants of the past my hold. If they are more of an eyesore, or a nuisance, why keep them?
I still like Stella D’Oro Daylilies and recently planted some at the front of the driveway. Why? Their long bloom, bright color, and toughness are just what that spot needs. Consider some fresh new ways to use some of the old plant fads.
What plants are on your “fads” list?
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© 2013 written for Ilona’s Garden Journal by Ilona E. An excellent blog.