It's the Plants, Darling

Help! I’m stuck in the Kmart garden center and I can’t get out!

Now, we appreciate a good garden-related travel article as much as the next person, but honestly, would you go all the way to Russia for this?

The beds adjoining the Cameron complex are glorious, and unlike most of the other Russian gardens I visited, they had something in bloom aside from impatiens, ageratum and phlox. Tucked behind the ramp, I found a delightful "giardino segreto" with drifts of white dahlias, red zinnias, crisp corrugated hosta leaves and pink wands of astilbes artfully massed around obelisks, fountains and putti.

and further down:

Following the arrow on a crooked little sign, I ducked beneath an archway and emerged onto a vast courtyard planted with the most spectacular array of perennials and shrubs I had seen in Russia — rusty sedums, blue-green Chinese junipers, clouds of white hydrangea flowers, lush trellises of old-fashioned sweet peas, a few lingering Iceland poppies as bright and shiny as candy, tree peonies and irises that must be magnificent in spring, all of it just about to cross the line from cultivation to chaos.

Dahlias?  Junipers?  Hydrangeas?  The vodka had better be good, because we’re sure as hell not going for the plants.

Read on: History Is Perennial in the Gardens of the Great Czars – New York Times.

Posted by on June 19, 2006 at 12:23 pm, in the category It's the Plants, Darling.
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3 responses to “Help! I’m stuck in the Kmart garden center and I can’t get out!”

  1. Reading Dirt says:

    Maybe it’s not what you plant, but how you plant it. Hard to tell without seeing the gardens. The plant list may not be inspiring. Neither was the plant list for the garden beds I saw at Versailles — but what they did with them… a bit overwhelming, actually. I rather preferred Marie Antoinette’s little play farm.

  2. Pam/Digging says:

    “Reading Dirt” has a good point. If you have to plant unusual plants to have a great garden, most of us are just boring everyone to death. Actually, maybe we are. Hmmm. What to do? Just plant what you like, I guess, and spend lots of time looking at other people’s gardens for inspiration. That’s partly why I troll so many blogs each day.

    I know this site is called RANT, and you are terrific writers, but it’s starting to feel like an exclusive club over here, what with all the barbed criticisms being strewn about. How about some articles on what you DO like? Give me the carrot as well as the stick. Humbly gardening with sedums and irises in Austin, Pam.

  3. Talbin says:

    Okay, this is a bit of a rant of my own, but I’m going to operate under the assumption that opposing views are welcome. At least I hope so, because I really don’t want to be kicked off this great site.

    No, one would not travel to St. Petersburg for the gardens, but it’s not because they are so very “plain” or have “boring” plant choices. It’s because St. Petersburg, like most of post-Soviet Russia, is poor. And, because the city is poor and in many cases literally crumbling around them, they probably do not place a high priority on ornamental gardening. I have a feeling that ANY sort of gardening is a luxury most Russians can’t afford.

    That the Times writer even found some gardens to see is somewhat amazing to me because I don’t even remember a window box with geraniums. I have a feeling the caretakers of these public gardens have to be pretty resourceful to get and propagate plants, hence the reliance on easily divisible perennials like astible and hosta.

    And as an aside, I’m a zone 4a gardener and I understand the limited plant choices that Russians probably have based on the climate. Heck, in our zone we can’t even grow oakleaf or lacecap hydrangeas, just plain old mophead types. Not all of live on a coast.

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