Thursday, April 10, 2008

Plants with meaning

A garden friend of mine did a program years ago where she talked about creating a garden with meaning. As best I remember, she was considering being thoughtful about the plants that are included in a display bed, so that those of us that were garden educators would have some foundation to base our interpretation on -- not just having to be creative about it! This means using plants that have interesting stories, or that 'do something' interesting.

I love to think about planting plants that have meaning.

To me, it means selecting plants for a garden that not only have personal meaning, but that also 'work for living.'

In a garden, this might include memory plants (if you can grow them) - plants that were given to you or sentimental favorites - ones that your family might have grown or that you grew in another place.

Or, they might be plants that remind you of favorite plants or places -- my gardening companion loved the Western hemlocks of our California roots, so we have 16 of our own Eastern hemlocks planted around our garden (they're a LOT bigger than this now).

I want to know where a plant that I've put in my garden has come from -- where is (or was) it native? what was its native habitat? If it's a hybrid, who were its parents? If it's a cultivar, what was it selected for? Color, more flowers, low height, etc. These are interesting bits for me to learn about -- it's part of the fun of being a gardener.

As a natural gardener, I want to have plants that do something -- providing seeds and fruits for birds and other herbivores, producing flowers that have nectar and pollen for flower visitors, providing leafy food for caterpillars and other insects, nesting sites for birds, etc. These are often native plants, but not always.

If there's a great tender perennial (I'm thinking of Salvia coccinea, native to the Gulf Coast) that hummingbirds love, sign me up.

1 comment:

  1. My great-grandmother had a huge angel-wing begonia she grew on her back patio on the gulf coast of Texas, where I grew up. After she died, my mom moved into her house, and my mom kept the begonia flourishing. Now that I've got a garden of my own, my mom gave me a piece of the begonia to root for myself. I very nearly killed it, but it's coming back to life this spring. It's literally an heirloom plant. :)

    Rachel @ in bloom

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