It is getting harder and harder for me to find the plants
that I need. It’s nobody’s fault, really. I have access to excellent garden
centers, and they carry the hot new introductions as well as the
usual suspects. I can also call upon a galaxy of mail-order sources. It’s not their problem that—clearly—other gardeners don’t require as many tall perennials as I do.
I am surrounded by high, narrow buildings, and more than my
fair share of good-sized trees. In this context, climbers and tall plants seem
to work best. I also have a couple of enclosures that were put there by the
previous owner, and they demand plants that can quickly put on a foot and a
half and then keep going.
But when I look at catalogs and nurseries I am always seeing
“New! Dwarf x,” and “Improved! Shorter y.” I rely on oriental lilies,
colocasia, buddleia, clematis, and everything else that climbs, as well as a
small group of perennials (tall ferns, various rudbeckia, boltonia, heliopsis,
a few others) for height. Self seeders like the tall verbena bonariensis or the
various species nicotianas are also workable. With the narrow spaces I have to
offer, up is the best direction to go.
Of course, once you’ve become a sizeist, it’s kind of a
vicious circle. Shorter plants don’t thrive too well in the shadow of their
lankier neighbors, so everything has to get big fast or perish.
So these new, squat little echinaceas or any of their dumpy
brethren don’t do a thing for me. (And I’ll never buy mini-hostas.) I like the
undisciplined look. Lanky, weedy, gangly, leggy. It’s all good by me. Breeders, are you listening?
(I am joined in this peeve by Angela Treadwell-Palmer of
Plants Nouveau, who ranted about this recently in her enewsletter, The