Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Again

Everything old is new again.  Have you ever been in the car with teens when a current song, remade from your own youth, comes on and you sing along?  Only to note the shock and dismay from the teens because they thought the song was new; it belonged them them.  They do a little shudder, are at a lack for words and silently swear to never listen to that song again.   It totally creeps them out, you have somehow defiled a song by the hint it was cool back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Queen 1977 "We Will Rock You"
Five 2000 "We Will Rock You"

Each generation, as they run head long into youth, thinks their ideas are new. 

Same goes with gardening.  Alas, part of this is from the media hype for products.  All new and improved is shouted from every commercial: 

·         Never before seen. 

·         Exciting new colors. 

·         Newly developed. 

·         For the discriminating gardener.

There’s also “There’s nothing new under the sun.”  Fact is gardening is a little bit of both.

I enjoy looking at photos and visiting old gardens.  Each era has its specialties and design.  Its fun to see what was in style and how it was used.  It’s sad to note a beautiful plant allowed to die out from commercial availability. 

As I’m reading my garden catalogs (Isn’t every gardener in January?), some of the new introductions are spectacular.  Hybridizers are continually developing new colors, designs and traits making them different.   Other new introductions are old favorites brought back into the commercial market. 

Do you buy new plant introductions?  Must all your plants be heirloom?  Either way with any garden purchase it’s best to do your homework prior to buying.  Read what several nurseries have to say about the plant – not just the catalog in your hand.   Talk with other gardeners and see if they’ve tried the plant.  Check out your county extension or the state agricultural university’s web site.  The University of Illinois and Purdue University always have balanced information.

Visit public gardens in your planting zone and see what thrives from the professionals.  I also like to double check some of my favorite garden books: 

·         The National Audubon Society’s offers books on plants of all kinds. 

·         “Wicked Plants” by Amy Stewart.

·         “Gerard’s Herbal – the history of plants” by John Gerard

·         “Illinois Wildflowers” and “Forest Trees of Illinois” by IDNR  

These are just a few and your local library will have others.  Try the old; it may preserve a plant on the edge of extinction.  Experiment with new; it may become your new best friend.  Dan Bennet said “One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds.”  I tend to agree.
canon and fountain
Current "Galva IL Veteran's Park"
1906 "Galva IL Central Park - now Veteran's Park"

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