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Unlike your favorite painting or sentimental vase, a landscape is alive and constantly changing.

~ author unknown ~

From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

As the days get shorter and the temperatures cool off, our Brugmansia are putting out their final flushes for the season. I have enjoyed playing 'bee' and spreading pollen around in the hopes of creating new brugmansia hybrids that have great color and form. I started out with hundreds of seedlings most of which grew up to be unremarkable and some even downright ugly plants.
Just a handful made the final cut and I was really excited to register the first of my seedlings last month. "Irish Smiles" has single pink flowers with green edges and long tendrils. I am introducing my 'baby' in the spring of 2013 and pictures have been posted on the Brugmansia page of our website.
Happy Fall Planting,

Green Thumbs Galore LLC

On the Native Buzz

by Dava Stewart

We are surrounded by buzzwords, and it is almost inevitable that the marketing gurus of the world will take over certain words. Consider the word “green.” At one time, it simply signified a color, and made people think of grass and leprechauns. Now, it is used to represent a whole host of ideas - from alternative energy to recycling.

When it comes to gardening, a marketing buzzword is native. The marketing claim is that if a plant that grows natively, or naturally, in a certain area it will be more likely to thrive because it is adapted to the conditions of that area. That may be true of wildflowers, where only the fittest survive, but it is not true of anything you can purchase at a retail store.

Confusing the issue even more are two other terms we see thrown around a lot: hybrid and GMO. The initials GMO represent the phrase Genetically Modified Organism. There is a big difference between a plant that has been genetically modified and one that is a hybrid. Genetic modification happens on a cellular level, in a lab, with scientists and syringes.

Hybridization can happen in someone’s backyard, if they have the knowledge to do it, because a hybrid is a cross of two similar varieties. GMOs are designed to resist certain insects, or to be immune to particular diseases. Hybrids are bred to strengthen inherent traits. Gardeners (and seed companies) create hybrids to obtain a certain color of bloom, or to be hardier during a drought, or to enhance some other naturally occurring trait. This is all an over-simplification of both processes, but the point is that native, hybrid, and GMO plants are all different.  

Coneflowers are an example of a flower that is native to most of the United States - they were growing here before people started traveling back and forth across oceans. In some areas you may still be able to find native coneflowers growing wild.

But, even though the species is native to this continent, you can’t buy a coneflower cultivar today that hasn’t been bred for a certain trait, or hybridized for a particular look. And that’s not a bad thing. The reason we enjoy the amazing colors, shapes, and variety of flowers available is because gardeners are experimenting, hybridizing, and developing.

All of this is not to say that native plants are bad, or that every time you see a tag that says “native” it’s simply a marketing ploy. People may choose to native plants for many reasons, and there is nothing wrong with that choice. Just don’t think that you are purchasing plants that will be more likely to survive.

Most of us want plants that please us in some way - bright, beautiful blooms and varied foliage give us visual satisfaction, my huge rosemary bush brings a smile to my face each I catch its scent, and of course, pulling weeds and touching the soil stimulates the sense of touch. I plant at least a few vegetables each spring because the burst of flavor from fresh produce is amazing. None of these pleasures require plants to be native to the area where I live, and the few native plants I do grow are not more productive, or healthier, than any of the others.

The converse is true, as well: just because a plant is a hybrid, it will not necessarily be more likely to survive. There are weak cultivars of every type and variety of plant on the market. (Except maybe for mint. I don’t think there is a weak mint plant in existence!)

So what is a gardener to do? Play. Experiment. Buy plants and seeds that appeal to you. Be aware that not everything you plant will survive. Find out what works for your garden, and what can withstand your watering (or not-watering) habits. Plant flowers and vegetables and fruits that you love, and enjoy them.

You will have a perfect opportunity for a little garden play very soon! Our semi-annual driveway sale is coming right up. On October 6 and 7, you are invited to our driveway at 2 North Crest Road in Chattanooga. Call or check our web site for directions.


October in the Garden:

My NEW Brugmansia :
Irish Smiles

Green edge

Generous Flushes