4 Feb 2015

Garden Grumblings:Leave the Branding to the Ranchers, Please!

 I think I might be channeling Shirley Maclaine yet again - in the sense that I have a feeling that my Garden Grumbling topic for February will be one might place me in that precarious position of being 'Out on a Limb!' all by my lonesome.

I loathe rules, limitations and traditions in general, [thanks largely to my being an INTJ personality type] and as such do not follow trends, or anything deemed 'trendy.' 

Those familiar with some of the logos presented within this post will immediately recognize their branding potential. I would be a liar to say that I haven't fallen victim to this most pernicious form of advertising - and indeed I have come to rely on specific 'labels' that have proven their merit [see what I am doing here?] to me over the years.

Having said such, the one area of my life where these entrapments have remained blissfully absent is within my garden. Most North American gardening magazines are riddled with page after page of plant suggestions that are so deeply entrenched within some form of advertising/promotion, that it is actually hard to see the proverbial forest for the trees. Catchy tag lines are used: who doesn't want to garden with a proven winner? And goodness me, but I simply must have the latest Perennial or Hosta of the Year. And we must not forget the powerful 'Colour of the Year!' Already my head is spinning, and not in a good way.

Most of us would readily admit that their garden is a representation of themselves. I have always said that gardening is one of the truest, most transparent forms of autobiography available to humankind. Do you consider yourself trendy? Or are you the trendsetter? [unbeknowingly] I suppose it also has something to do with why one gardens. I know for myself, being somewhat of a collector/gatherer, I would rather be the first person to grow something rare and unusual, as opposed to being one who follows the latest trends. It becomes somewhat precarious when I stock my benches at work because I am able to recognize that I tend to represent the minority, and as such, I need to make sure that I have scoured the various sites to find out what all the trend setters will be for each gardening season. I do draw limitations with the number of specific varieties of certain genera. How many Echinacea or Huechera does one really need to have in their garden? Why not try an exotic Arisaema or Gentiana instead? Its a fine balance - one that I am still trying to learn about!

I shy away from garden centres and nurseries that rely on this bombardment of advertising - usually the chunkier, big box formats. I want to walk into a nursery and immediately be able to discern something of the essence of the people who own as well as those who work the business. Hand designed identification tags, with real photos and euphoric prose to describe a plant wins my heart every time, and as such, I have done my best to eliminate the visual pollution from where I work. If I am forced [and yes, sometimes you have to accept the lesser of the two evils] to follow specific 'branding' guidelines, I will do so begrudgingly, but I will also relegate such plant material to a less visible, more discreet location, so as not to sacrifice my own integrity. I have learned that when a gardener wants something bad enough, they will take the time to find it!

Of course, I can only giggle when these same marketing gurus [their word, not mine!] stumble upon something that I have been aware of long before it crossed their radars. By then I have exhausted their sales potential, and am happily looking for something new. 

Imagine my chagrin, after looking high and low to find Hosta 'Curly Fries' to discover that it has been named Hosta of the Year for 2016. My rare and unusual gem has just become a wee bit less intriguing!

I know some of my most loyal readers and customers do subscribe to this form of gardening, and as such, I would be remiss not to make a few announcements:

Hosta Liberty [directly above] has been chosen as Hosta of the Year for 2015. Geranium cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' [below] has likewise been chosen as Perennial Plant of the Year! 

My only remaining 'grumble' is the fact that I have watched these 'designations' carefully, and have witnessed an increase in the price of said plants, which can only be based on the trendiness/popularity scale that many retailers subscribe to. Alas, I think I've exhausted my rant.... for this month at least. I started this 'feature' in the hope of initiating a conversation with my followers. I've done my part, now its your turn!


cheryl said...

Great rant Barry! I'm training myself to stay away from the big store pop-ups in spring. There's the usual tour for the oddball but I prefer family nurseries. One big store actually had a 50% off sign on annuals that had been bitten hard by a late frost. I couldn't believe their gaul!
I luv the Curly Fries and will look for it because I'm adding more and more yellow to the mostly green garden. In filtered sunlight it just pops! and the Liberty, hooo boy. I bought 3 last August and they were brilliant until the Great Slug Invasion destroyed every sign of them :( I am hoping they will spring forth in a few months, if not I'll return to Rideau Ramble and purchase more.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

OMG Sweetie ! I love this rant !!
Visual pollution is perfect .. can I please use that ?
I have Curly Fries .. well I did last year when I planted it .. hopefully it will emerge this year once we drag ourselves out of the white s**t ?
It was rather underwhelming me so I hope it will be more in my face ? this year.
I like that hosta you have .. might have to think about that .. stop tempting me please ?!!
Perfect Post : )