Trends or Classics?

I’ve seen the trends come and go in my long career. Trends are, by nature, temporary. Maybe I’m just getting grumpy with age but what about the classics??? The tried and true!

I remember when decks were all the rage. Today people frown when you mention a deck. It’s perceived as too much work with staining. But in some cases, such as a sloping property or high doorway, a deck is usually the best, maybe the only option. Yes there are “composite” materials today that don’t require staining. But the less expensive composites will still fade and crack with no means of fixing it. Composites can’t be stained. Wood can be given a fresh look with a new coat of stain, which may be sprayed on relatively easily . And even the cheaper composites cost about 30% more than treated wood. Indeed there are better composite materials but now we’re talking triple the cost of wood.

Pavers are more popular today. I agree that pavers are very nice. A better alternative to concrete as they won’t crack and if they settle can easily be fixed. Incidentally, if properly laid they shouldn’t settle. However, with a high door or slope, which requires a lot of fill, there is a good chance of settling.

But enough about that…………..what about plants? I’ve spent a lot of time in old gardens with beautiful large trees and plants that have survived hundreds of cold winters and hot summers. I like to use these time tested “classic” plants. We hear and read about the “new introductions” every year. But guess what………………… some nursery has put a cute name on a slightly different plant and paid for marketing to receive royalties. The “latest and greatest” aren’t always as advertised. We probably have 10,000 hostas to pick from and hundreds of hydrangeas. There are varieties of common species that aren’t any better but have a “cute” name on them for marketing reasons. A prime example is the dwarf lilac. Who wouldn’t like a dwarf lilac? There are basically 2 to choose from. Miss Kim and Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ or dwarf Korean lilac. Which would you pick? Miss Kim of course. Sounds cute. But it gets bigger, flowers less and has a bad case of leaf spot in the summer. Somebody making a royalty named it. Nobody gets a kick back on meyeri ‘Palibin’. It’s shorter, with nice glossy foliage and abundant flowers. Granted, you might have it and it’s getting 6-7’ tall. Just keep that in mind when you plant it. Miss Kim gets 8-10’ tall. They are considered dwarf because common lilac can get 15’ tall! By the way, I’m sure you’ve all heard about “Bloomerang”, the “dwarf lilac that blooms all summer”. Not really. It’s a weak grower that occasionally “sports” a few sparse flowers out of season. It’s a very disappointing introduction in my opinion.

OK……………enough ranting. There are some nice new varieties of new hybrid plants out there. And all trends are not bad. But you should give your new project careful consideration. Maybe ask for a professional opinion. Don’t just do what the neighbor does or follow the advice of a garden writer. Talk to a “gardener”.


Enjoy the coming cool, clear autumn!

Green species Japanese maple with fire engine red fall color in Marysville, Ohio!