Friday, April 17, 2009

excuses nothing, it's about quality of life

One of the trees you might be seeing around NYC in bloom is a saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) a fabulous medium-sized tree with these big, showy blossoms in spring and great form the older they get.

I admit entirely that I am, in fact, a total plant geek. My friends and I will make each other laugh, joking in botanical latin and morphological terminology that doesn't make sense to most people. For example if you have ever come across a 16' dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Conica') and had to chuckle to yourself, "yeah, that's a real dwarf!", then you know what I'm talking about, and I am happy to tell you you are a plant geek like me. And if you don't get it at all then definitely don't worry because ultimately it wasn't very funny to begin with. I guess it does kind of border on plant snobbiness though, doesn't it? And well, I guess I really am a plant snob too. But, for the same reason I devoted my career at this point to public horticulture I also started this blog because I want to help people get to know plant better. For thousands of years philosophers and scientists alike have seen how the presence of plants and horticulture betters humans quality of life. And who doesn't want a better quality of life. So you have a brown thumb, so did I once. It's like anything else in life, you work at it, you learn, you get better at it, your life is richer because you are using your mind and not letting it go to mush. You've killed a lot of plants? Yeah, well, bet I've killed more! You want to race? I wish I could convey to more people that you have to stop thinking about plants as they relate to you and think about them as plants, as part of nature, as part of a science with tons and tons of variables. This could dissuade the budding gardener, I understand that, but it can also make someone a damn smarter gardener really quickly. Because much of it is common sense, and over time just a deeper vocabulary and plant palette. Like painting a room good horticulture is a lot of prep followed by a few quick and smart swipes of the wrist. It is spring and it is amazing outside and you've got spring fever. That is awesome! So do I! Let's capitalize on it, let's get growing. But first, treat yourself to a bit of common sense. Think about your site and what you want to grow, then see if you can find plants suitable to the space. Do your homework. Just because a store has been selling tomato plants doesn't necessarily mean it is the right time to place them out in your gardens. Because you are excited to prune your trees doesn't mean they are excited to be pruned, especially this time of year when they have allocated all (ALL!) of their finite energy reserves towards leafing out, and NOT callusing tons of new cuts. Just because it is a tree and blooming and it is spring, that doesn't mean it's a cherry blossom! Just because it is a shrub and it is yellow and it is spring, that doesn't mean its a forsythia! Well, ok, it probably is a forsythia, but anyway...

The world of horticulture is vast and amazing and there are so many great plants out there to know and appreciate, so don't cheat yourself. And as i have said before, if you have a question about a plant or how to care for it, I would be glad to help you. If you want help IDing something, I would be happy to give it a shot. As a formally trained horticulurist with 10 years of experience we do know a thing or two, us plant geeks.

Email any photos or questions to and have a fabulous spring!

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