Monday, September 12, 2011

We can't grow that, can we?

In the eleven years we produced A Gardener's Diary on HGTV, I had the opportunity to see gardens all over the U.S. and Canada.  Inevitably, I would find myself saying, "We can't grow that," meaning that in Atlanta where I live that a particular plant couldn't take the heat and humidity.  I would almost always say it with a tinge of regret.

Take for example ceanothus.  In California and Washington State, I would see the fabulous blues of this shrub and rue the fact that we couldn't grow it in Georgia.  And lupines.  I remember in Canada seeing fields of the colorful, spiky flowers and wishing we could have them, too.  Once, before I knew better, I bought some plants at a local nursery (why they had them, I don't know).  I planted them, and the next day I couldn't even tell where they had been.  They had melted in the heat and humidity.  I still see packets of lupine seeds at our local big box stores and wonder if anyone ever buys them and why they keep including them in the racks.

On the other hand, I would always find it fascinating that I could be standing clear across the country and see the same shrubs that grew in my back yard.  The above photograph could have been taken in Georgia, if you just look at the plants and not the buildings in the background (apartments overlooking Parc Monceau in Paris).  We can grow aucuba, philadelphus (although a caterpillar sometimes gobbles up the shrub overnight just as it is finishing blooming), viburnum and certainly wisteria.  If that's bamboo in the upper left hand corner, we can grow that, too.

I've gotten better about my attitude of "the grass is greener".  I remember someone in New England saying she coveted our native evergreen Magnolia grandiflora, which grows all over my woods.  On a Wisconsin prairie, I was amazed at a gardener who was trying, with limited success, to create a little micro-climate to grow shade plants she had enjoyed in her native New England.

I'll probably continue to play the game of "we can't grow that", but I am trying to adopt a glass half full attitude.  After all, just about everywhere, there's something wonderful that will grow.  I've just got to get over the ceanothus.



  1. I, too, longed for ceanothus. I'm content with my subtropicals now that I know the PNW has cool summers where some of our most glorious delights do not prosper. Blooming where I'm planted did not come easy but I'm now reconciled to the glories of south Georgia and the return from the roots of more tropical delights like Pride of Barbados and Tecoma stans.

  2. We do have such a long growing season. I don't know what Pride of Barbados or Tecoma stans are, but they sound interesting. The grass is not always greener, thank goodness. I appreciate your comments.

  3. Pride of Barbados is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Tecoma stans is commonly called Esperanza in Texas and is native to the Southwest. I grew both from seed shared by a Texas friend.