I'm happy to join thousands of other bloggers in writing about the environment today - it's never much of a stretch for gardenbloggers, anyway. That's especially true if they routinely write about sustainability and that's what I'm doing today. Because today is also Garden Blogger Bloom Day, let's look at how sustainable - or not - those October bloomers in the previous post really are.
First up, the perennials. New England asters, sedums and phlox demand and get absolutely no coddling from me - no fertilizer, no watering, only the spring mulching with leafmold. Darn sustainable, huh? And the asters have the added appeal of being native to my area. Japanese anemone and hardy begonia are almost as carefree - I water them if it hasn't rained in a month or so and otherwise they're just as carefree as the others. All except the begonia get chopped down when they stop looking good, which for sedums isn't until the new growth has appeared in early spring. The begonia just turns to mush after the first hard frost.
Now the hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva' is, like the oakleaf, far more sustainable than most hydrangeas, which are on the thirsty side. But paniculatas can and do go a month in my garden without water and live to see another day. No feeding. No problems with disease or insects. No pruning required.
Lastly, the roses. Traditionally the least sustainable, least eco-friendly plant group there is, right? Spray, feed, water - and repeat every fricking week or two all season long. And serious rosarians may still be growing those god-awful hybrid teas that produce show-winning blossoms atop ugly plants, but among regular gardeners these fussy plants have gone out of style, and good riddance to them.
Enter the new breed of landscape or shrub roses, like 'Knockout', the most popular of the bunch. Here you see it blooming this week and if last year is any guide, these babies will still be blooming after Thanksgiving. But most importantly, its foliage looks healthy - no insect damage, no black spot. Now because these plants were planted in June of this year, I did keep them watered but I gave them no fertilizer at all (contrary to the instructions, but what the heck!). And say what you will about common plants - and these guys are becoming as ubiquitous as foundation yews in the '50s - they're perfect for most homeowners, including many of my clients, who seem thrilled by this achievement in horticultural research. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Hort Researchers are Hot!
THE POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS
It's all well and good that these plants can survive without the wasteful application of resources, especially resources that are themselves toxic or require fossil fuels in their production, but do they actually do any good? Like all plants, they contribute to air and water quality. And they feed the pollinators, especially sedums, which are covered with bees every time I look.
Further, if the plants are as beautiful as these, they give back to human beings by lowering our blood pressure and contributing to world peace. And to nit-pickers who might wonder if these claims have ever been documented I only say - not yet.