Upon arriving at work this morning, I was incensed to see the landscapers ripping out the annuals from the beds at the main entrance. Those hapless marigolds. Those wretched salvia. Snuffed out in their (late) prime. “Totally unprovoked,” I cried. “I mean, we haven’t even had our first frost!” My carpool buddy was, at this point, looking askance and probably thinking I’d gone nuts.
But it got me to thinking. What is it about beds of “cheerful annuals” that sets off so many gardeners? (Why are annuals always “cheerful,” anyway? There’s something untrustworthy about that.)
What is it that’s so offensive to serious gardeners about carpets of annual bedding flowers? I think it’s the waste. For the same money and effort, you could plant extraordinary perennial gardens, or even, for that matter, extraordinary annual gardens. Hey, if you’re going to grow annuals, let’s see a wildflower meadow. A pollinator garden. Vegetables! Herbs!
The planting in a lot of the gardens within the garden were a case of “bung in the annuals”: as soon as anything starts to wilt or die off, it’s whipped out and replaced with more temporary bedding. The result was a blaze of colour, certainly, but not particularly sustainable or likely to get a thumbs up from many organic gardeners.
Now, in (weak) defense of Butchart. First, I have to admit that even though I’m a Vancouverite and even lived in Victoria for five years, I’ve never gone to Butchart Gardens. But still I feel the need to point out that it is a tourist attraction (some might say misleadingly masquerading as a garden). At least that’s how the locals see it. As the website claims, it’s “fifty-five acres of wonderful floral display.” And I’m sure the tour groups love it in all its theme-park-like glory. It should just come with a disclaimer for “serious gardeners.”