Just too many choices

>> Monday, January 7, 2008

I’m still getting used to the idea of actually being able to grow more than just vegetables. I finally have a yard large enough to fill with more flowers than I ever planned for previously.

In anticipation of having such a yard, I have been receiving garden catalogs for many years. Even after seeing the variety of plants in these catalogs I still can’t get used to the number of choices.

If I could plant everything I wanted to just from the few catalogs I receive, I would need everyone’s yards in my neighborhood and then some.

Violas alone have 500 varieties!

There are over 6,500 different roses! How can there be that many?

115 varieties of Hydrangea, 150 species of Viburnum, over 500 varieties of Iris. These numbers are simply amazing to me.

There are entire societies and organizations formed and devoted to the care and love of each and every plant you can imagine.

How can anyone possibly choose one ‘favorite’ plant over another?

It is over-whelming to say the least.

If I change my garden every year by replacing every plant with just the new varieties coming out each year I would not cover them all in my lifetime.

Maybe I can concentrate on just the All-American selection winners. There is even a website devoted to just these plants! To get on this exclusive list a plant has to be tested by a network of independent judges to determine the plants performance in the garden, and that plant has to be deemed superior compared to other varieties. These trials have been conducted for 75 years now and with the number of plant varieties I don’t see them running out of candidates for testing.

Or, maybe I can grow only heirloom varieties. Heirlooms are commonly thought to be vegetables but there are many heirloom perennial plants as well. There is Yarrow, Monkshood, Hollyhock, Aster, etc.

Perhaps I can narrow my selections to only plants that fit a certain theme, say color, or flowers found in a tea garden or English cottage garden or herb gardens or water gardens.

Even the choices of themes are numerous.

I have no idea what ‘theme’ my garden is developing into. I tend to cater to butterflies and hummingbirds so I guess I have already made a choice for that theme garden. But I am not thrilled about labeling. I find labels too restricting. There is no way I am going to limit myself to plants that only attract this form of wildlife, besides nature isn’t restrictive so why should I be?

The one thing that is restrictive, thank goodness, is the zone I live in. But this only narrows the possibilities a fraction. Besides, Palm trees look pretty ridiculous surrounded by snow.

So how do you make your choices for what to put in your garden?


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