Listening to the radio on the way into work today, I heard that Vancouver hasn’t had a day without rain since December 15! Of course, that includes every time we’ve had a drop of rain, even if that was the only drop that day. But still, it feels like it’s been raining forever. And the garden desperately needs me. (Or maybe I need the garden…)
I must be a true Vancouverite, because I’d rather have it wet and mild than cold and sunny. But the rain is probably the Vancouver gardener’s biggest ally – and our biggest winter enemy. The winter wet kills more plants here than does the cold.
What’s the weather doing in your part of the world? How does it affect your garden?
Remember when, in the early 2000s, “extreme” became the lazy marketer’s solution to naming new products and we were suddenly bombarded with extreme fruit juices, extreme razors and even extreme shower heads? Tack the word “extreme” onto any lame product and suddenly – it’s cool!
That’s how I’m feeling about LED technology these days. Yes, I know it’s more environmentally friendly than standard lighting, but… well, it’s just too darn trendy. Case in point: LED pacifiers. Ew.
Enter the Bordato Illuminated Planter, an LED planter from Design Within Reach. Lightweight and lit from inside, Bordato Planters are made of double-walled plastic material, letting plants withstand cold far better than ordinary planters can. The four low-voltage LED lights provide more than 40,000 hours of illumination. Now that’s what I call a worthwhile use of technology!
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.)
Amy Stewart writes:
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!
Jane Perrone writes about her trip to the Butchart Gardens with similar feeling:
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.”