plant regulation-Trivial-and OT

Jane McGary
Wed, 29 Jul 2009 09:04:14 PDT
Rodger wrote,
Modern uninformed types want knowledge and expertise handed to them 
on a silver
>platter, want to be spoonfed what others only learned by paying 
>close attention
>for decades, but that's not the way you learn to grow plants or arrange a
>garden. You learn those by getting your hands dirty, making lots of mistakes,
>and killing lots of plants in the process.

This is a rather grumpy (as he admits) way of expressing the problem 
that I face as editor of the Rock Garden Quarterly. There is a 
constant call from within the Society for us to print more 
"elementary" articles, but almost nobody wants to write them. I don't 
think this is so much the result of contempt for novices as just that 
experienced people want to write about what interests them, and also 
they feel, quite rightly, that information for novices is available 
in hundreds of books and in such mass-market magazines as Fine 
Gardening and Horticulture, and now of course on the internet.

As for Master Gardeners, I think they're great for helping novices 
with their lawns and tomatoes, but I had a busload of them visit here 
once, and they were completely bewildered by what they were seeing. 
The greatest interest displayed was in a planting of annuals used to 
cover a dormant bulb bed. I do know some sophisticated plantspeople 
who have gone through their program out of an interest in helping the 
community, but they already knew what was being taught to them and 
just wanted the certificate so they could participate in educating others.

I think the best way to "hook" people on growing unusual plants is to 
let them see what you're doing. One of the features I plan for my new 
house and garden is a raised bed the width of the road frontage 
(which has a lot of foot traffic, thanks to an elementary school 
around the corner) planted with a succession of geophytes and 
companion ground covers, and the rest of the front yard will be a 
woodland garden with a "Welcome" sign and no fence. I know I may lose 
a few things (the really rare bulbs will be in the fenced back yard), 
but I've seen many instances in Portland where a high-level plant 
collection has attracted and engaged neighbors and spread out along 
the street. Sean Hogan's revision of about half of the block where 
his house stands is a great example.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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