Sunday, April 3, 2016

Say Good-bye to the Ornamental Garden?

Clematis 'Josephine'
Today temperatures in central Wisconsin are predicted to hit 50 degrees. This with the remnants of four inches of snow on the ground. I'm not sure how dry it will be. Working days in the garden are hit and miss this spring. I get in a good few hours and then rain, snow, or my work schedule prevent me making progress.

Already gardeners in warming climates are posting pictures of daffodils in bloom (for the cut flower market), spinach coming up, and fruit trees in bloom. Here, winter continues to hang on.

Advertisers are putting out everything for the edible garden.

If not the edible garden, then it is all about a pollinator garden predominately featuring habitat for monarch butterflies or honey bees.

My hope is some of us gardeners continue to plant ornamental gardens, too.

Last Saturday, I took a grafting class at Olbrich Gardens. Primarily it was touted a fruit tree grafting. My goal in taking the course is to graft other apple varieties to my dwarf Honeycrisp apple tree; and a pollinator to my Seckl pear so I don't have to clip a branch from one my parents' pear and place it in a five-gallon tree like it is on a date or rely on the neighbor's bees finding another pear tree in the lot 200 feet from my own and then bumble back to my pear tree. Last year, the bees did a good job; the pear branch never showed up.

During the class, I asked if the presenter had any experience grafting Japanese peonies. The presenter replied he was only concerned with grafting edible plants.

I am starting to be very concerned with a possible decline in ornamental gardening. It is starting to feel like any flowers grown must be natives or for pollinators, or what is the use? This seems to be all fellow bloggers post about.

Is it selfish to desire flowering ornamentals for their beauty only?

What would gardens be without lilacs and peonies?

Should we give up on the glory of clematis? What of a hedge defining a garden from "not garden"? Should the wonder of deciduous azaleas fall by the wayside?

Northern Lights series azalea, 'Mandarin Lights'
And daylilies, blooming lushly in the hottest part of summer regardless of rainfall?

This is not to say I haven't upped my game with edibles. Before the snow, I had trimmed and cleaned out my raspberry bed which last year with a cool summer and plenty of rain provided seven or eight pickings of a couple quarts at a time. This from a bed just 6' by 4'.

Part of my edible garden in early June a couple years back.
This year, I already have set out some red and white onion sets, planted Chinese kale, and have a lettuce mix growing in a big pot on my deck. My peas are coming up. I am not sure why peas have not conquered the earth when they can grow at the temperatures seen here this spring.

As much as I am glad people are growing a portion of their own food, I hope they still plant petunias and zinnias.

Blue iris catching late afternoon light

Even my gardening nephews were drawn to gardening by flowers first with the idea of picking some for their sweet mama. Later, they found the fun in setting out tomato and pepper transplants, or dropping seed potatoes into hills to harvest for lunch. It was flowers which drew them to gardening, not spinach or beans.


  1. Rachelle- you spelled ornamental wrong in your title!

    1. I must have been coffee deficient this morning!

  2. The end of ornamental gardening??? Never! I actually have little interest in edible gardening (this has caused some friction with Judy, who fondly remembers her mother's large vegetable garden), though it's true that edibles seem very au courant. And while I am interested in pollinators, I think that is entirely consistent with ornamental gardening.

    1. Except that a lot of plants with exceptional bloom are low on pollen and nectar as they are sterile...

    2. True, but you can still have a spectacular garden without sterile plants.

  3. Olbrich Gardens - great place. I have visited there some years ago. Trust me there will never be an end to ornamental gardening. I have both - balance as I tell my friends. jajajaja JC