For well over a week I have been indulging my addiction to garden plants and my cravings are not nearly satisfied.
As I drive around town I see blooming trees and plants I wish I could have in my garden, or sadly, plants I used to have in another garden that are entirely inappropriate to the shaded, minimalist garden where I now live.
I have a bad case of plant envy and I am not aware of any treatment or cure for this disease.
Be warned, plant envy (horta plantae invidia?) is highly contagious, a lot like measles or chicken pox, and unfortunately it does not run a course. Although it does leave permanent scarring.
I imagined old age and disability would provide at least a partial cure. But no, I STILL WANT my neighbor’s lilac bush and the gingko tree on the street a block over. I also covet a gorgeous bed of lily-of-the-valley like the one in my friend’s back yard and the glorious giant miscanthus I see growing beside the highway to Charleston.
Never mind that tall grasses would overwhelm my tiny back garden and pale from a lack of sun. Some of the plants I miss from my much larger garden on the other side of town might grow here but they would need more care than this gardener can provide.
Many Master Gardeners I have known have suffered from the same addiction. A few have undertaken to have one of everything that will grow in this climate and some plants that should not. The late Wes Whiteside, a famed botanist at Eastern Illinois University, had a talent for creating a perfect environment for any plant he wanted for his garden.
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Some gardeners are just natural collectors and are determined to have the newest rose of the year, the latest daylily hybrid, and the rare new hosta from a breeders’ catalog I saw for only $32 for one plant in a four-inch pot.
You can indulge your addictions if you are so inclined by searching out specialized plant societies on the internet. There are societies for almost any plant you can think of, groups that specialize in iris or poppies and even fuchsias. They have meetings and shows and judges and tours. The American Horticulture Society has a list of special clubs for dozens of plants: everything from African Violets to viburnums. There may even be one for zinnias too.
One of my neighbors claims she is a recovered plant addict and will never have a relapse. She says the wildlife, the rabbits and raccoons and finally Alphie and his squirrel clan that rules this neighborhood made her give in. She is forming a 12-step program and now just has a few thorn bushes and many daffodils, which deer and squirrels do avoid. Oh, and a rapidly growing collection of houseplants. Go figure.
Upcoming webinar events
- Which Grass is Which? Identifying Grasses Made Easy – June 11 at 1:30 p.m.
- Landscape Invasive Plants and Native Alternatives – June 25 at 1:30 p.m.
- Youth Gardening: Back Pocket Lessons and Activities - July 16 at 1:30 p.m.
- Going Organic: Are organic pesticides safer than their synthetic counterparts? – Aug. 6 at 1:30 p.m.
Call the University of Illinois Extension office for more information 217-345-7034, or go online at https://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/
If you have other questions about your garden or landscape, feel free to contact a Master Gardener volunteer at the University of Illinois Extension office in Charleston at 217-345-7034. You can also check out the many horticulture webpages at the U of I Extension’s website by visiting http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/ . And be sure to like the Master Gardeners’ Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners. The University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact the extension office at 217-345-7034.