It's not an earth-shattering secret to declare that I don't like garden gnomes.
I resisted the temptation, some years ago when I was stuck at an awful bed and breakfast locale in Newfoundland and Labrador, to swipe the two ugly garden gnomes out in the 'garden' as I was leaving, and ensconce them on the top of Gros Morne. I did bump them with my suitcase and knock them over, but didn't hurt them in any way. Whew. I feel better for having 'fessed up to that.
My dislike of garden gnomes, however, is purely personal and really rather good-humoured. I LOVED the whimsical book "How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack", which might not be high lit-er-ah-chure, but is darn funny, and hey, I can even enjoy a whimsically placed gnome or three. I'm not a zombie-fan but I've seen zombie gnomes and they reduced me to chortles of glee.
The reason for this confession comes as a result of a discussion that happened on Twitter and on the blog of my friend and fellow gardening addict, Colleen Vanderlinden of In the Garden Online. Colleen took umbrage, rightfully so in my opinion, at some negative and critical posts and comments about 'crimes against gardening' posted by another writer. She didn't like the idea of being critical of other gardeners just because we don't share similar tastes.
I agree with her whole-heartedly. Sometimes, in our enthusiasms, we express opinions about certain plants or gardening techniques that we don't like. Just because I don't like something in my own garden, doesn't mean it is without merit.
There are plenty of people who turn up their noses at geraniums, especially the standard incandescent red, scarlet and fuchsia coloured varieties. "So common," these horto-snobs sniff.
Well, guess what? I love geraniums, buy some every year, normally nurture some through the winter (I didn't this year because, well, autumn was pretty chaotic what with moving and all that). I love the so-called common ones...
...and I love trying those that are offbeat or unusual in flower or foliage colour. The scarlet ones aren't my personal favourite only because I don't particularly like that colour...but in someone else's garden, I love them. You know why?
Because that person planted those scarlet geraniums because they loved them. They're doing their bit to beautify the world around them. Who the heck am I to judge them?
My problem with that plant in commercial landscapes is that it smacks of laziness in a landscaper, someone who just wants to get the job done, and really doesn't care about the overall result. In someone's garden? Again, I love it because obviously the gardener does too.
This is a (currently) quite expensive daylily called 'Cosmic Traveller'. I have it (and moved it) because it goes well with 'Timelord', another Doctor Who related daylily. You could likely get close to a dozen more common but equally wonderful daylilies for the price of this one. I'm a plant tester and plant collector, and it fit with my quirky tastes so I got it. Others wouldn't like it, preferring cleaner-lined blooms or different colours or not wanting to spend a huge amount on one plant. That's all good and fine.
We garden for a number of reasons. Some plant foods only, reducing their grocery bills and dependency on stores and foods from elsewhere. Some grow plants to encourage wildlife, from pollinators like bees to birds and butterflies. Some garden for the exercise, or the therapy of "coming in smelling of dirt" (Margaret Atwood), and some for all of the above.
We all garden to make the spaces around us a little more beautiful. As a gardening writer, photographer and speaker, I call myself a gardening cheerleader. My job is to encourage people to garden, and I firmly believe we can all grow great gardens, no matter where we live, whether we have ten acres of woodland or a north-facing balcony. If I speak negatively about clipped hedges, or petunias, or hybrid tea roses--none of which are to my tastes, but if they're yours, fantastic!--then how on earth can I consider myself a gardening cheerleader?
As garden communicators, we seek to educate others about the joys of gardening, and we can teach people about things like planting for pollinators, getting our gardens "off drugs" (gardening organically), low-maintenance gardening, drought-tolerant gardening, reclaiming of waste spaces with guerilla gardening, community food gardens...If we set ourselves up as horto-snobs, we will discourage people who are thinking about dipping a thumb or two into soil. And that does a disservice to everyone.
There is one exception to my cheerleading efforts, and I just can't find it in myself to say something nice about it because it is almost universally a nuisance plant, despised by all who know it...
Two little bits of housekeeping before I wrap up today. One, the various nurseries that I work with are starting to send me their new plant lists, and I'll be talking more about new plants in the weeks to come, as well as doing talks about new plants at nurseries and garden clubs. You can check out upcoming talks, not just mine but by others, on the events page at Bloominganswers. And if you're on Facebook, please consider "liking" these businesses:
Bloom Greenhouse and Garden Centre
Briar Patch Farm and Nursery
Scotian Gold Country Store
And finally, pertaining to Bloominganswers: We've been making some changes to the site to give members more features, including instant messaging and a chat room. Membership is still required (mostly to keep spammers out) but the site remains free, and is steadily growing. We're not just about Atlantic Canada, and we love talking about all things garden-related, and would love to have you join us. If we find a cure for goutweed, we'll let you know.