There is so much that is out of our control as gardeners.
Plants falter for reasons a team of botanists couldn’t figure out. Hailstorms
arrive in July, ruining a crop of tomatoes or a bed of hostas in a few minutes.
Plagues of slugs, Japanese beetles, and other destructive creatures arrive
With the yearly Garden Walk, although there are some
questions I’ve learned to expect, I’m always surprised by the minor plant,
object or other garden feature that—for inexplicable reasons—captures
Here’s one I always get: “How do you make your hydrangea
that color?” The more I hear about new hydrangea cultivars and their problems,
the gladder I am that I have stuck with the traditional macrophylla, arborescens,
paniculata, and other varieties. No, I patiently explain, I do not have to add
anything to the soil to make the flowers pink. That is the “Alpenglow” variety
(shown at top); it’s the same color as it was when I bought it years ago. I already have to site, water, prune,
and (if necessary) feed these plants. I don’t think I should be in charge of
the color too.
And then there is the fascination with this foliage plant I
discovered in the White Flower Farms catalog years ago and since have been
buying from Select Seeds. Even my husband can recite its botanical name without
As for lilies, while most of the expensive Orienpets I have
purchased over the years are taken for granted (such as “Grandiose,” above),
the wild lily henryi will always steal the show.
Every spring I try to pull a fast one on the visitors,
adding some new cultivars I am sure will amaze them. But it’s just as likely a humble
annual or a shrub I have long taken for granted will steal the show. If we're lucky, I might learn what impresses other journalists about our Garden Walk gardens; both Martha Stewart Living and a prominent gardening magazine were scouting the event this year. Late-breaking: here's what the Martha Stewart Living blog had to say about Garden Walk.