Petunias and a bit of plant snobbery

Petunias and a bit of plant snobbery

We all have opinions about plants, some we like, some we do not. We may regard some plants as rather garish, maybe too flouncy and blousy, maybe just too yellow for our taste. We make judgements on plants much the same as we make judgements on anything else. We categorise and decide what we think and it takes quite something for this to be changed.

I am the same as anyone else on this. There are plants I like and ones I definitely do not. Except I do know from experience that it is rare I can dislike a whole species of plant. So I will tell you that I do not like hostas, but there are one or two that are acceptable to me. I have never willingly bought a hosta, but a couple have crept into my garden from elsewhere and I have allowed them to stay. I also know that my taste is constantly evolving, at one time I did not understand why people like ferns, now the structural unfurlingness of them makes me just want more and more. Taste is not a static thing.

Some plants I do not like because I just do not like them, you will not catch me growing Brussel sprouts or celery as I think they are disgusting, it would be a waste of space. However I do love yellow and orange flowers, but to balance that I am not keen on green flowers. There is no rhyme or reason to these distinctions, some things just are.

I have been a member of the Thompson & Morgan trial panel now for nearly two years. I was very pleased to be accepted to do it and I have found the experience rather enjoyable. It is also rather challenging as I do not get a choice of what is being sent yet I feel a responsibility to grow what they send me come what may. From day one I have embraced the fact that this would challenge me to face some of my demon plants and that I might have to accept some of them being allowed into my garden.

Enter the petunias. I am not a petunia fan. I did find them often a bit garish and I think I considered them old fashioned in some way. This is slightly odd of me as I do not think I worry generally in terms of plant fashion, but I have thought about this quite a lot whilst sitting down to write this and it appears to be the deep-seated root of my issue with them. I have never bought any petunias but I have sometimes seen ones that I think look quite good, I remember seeing some once in a container at a rather famous garden and they looked wonderful, but I had not seen that particular variety for sale anywhere and the moment passed.

Petunias and a bit of plant snobbery

Petunia ‘Purple Velvet’

So as you will have guessed by now I was sent some petunias this year to trial. They are Petunia Purple Velvet, which came with a pyramid to grow them up. Now I confess I failed at the pyramid construction, that did not fit in with my type of gardening, but I wanted to use the petunias and give them a fair trial. So, I planted them with the sweet peas in the front garden to grow up the obelisks.

They look fantastic, the recent rain has helped them hugely and I keep them deadheaded. I am really happy with them and I would definitely grow them again, they have partnered the sweet peas perfectly. They are fantastically garish and I love the incredible depth of colour. Yes, what I thought I disliked is actually what I love about them. Yet another element of plant snobbery has been cured for me, petunias are now officially on the plant list.

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2 Comments

  1. Alison says:

    Hi Gill

    Thanks for the comment. I think I am getting more excited about the plants I don’t usually like than the ones I do. It is becoming like a personal challenge to see if I can still dislike them once I have grown them. Being a trial member is just such good fun and an education. I’ve just received notification I am doing it again this year, I’m so excited.

    Alison

  2. Gill Summerfield says:

    I am also a trials person and have been since March 2009….cannot believe I am still trialling in 2014.!! I enjoyed reading your blog Alison as it made me realise what a lot of plant snobbery does go on……I am very particular in plants I grow in my garden and have groaned when I have been sent a plant to trial. Once 2yrs ago I was sent Salpiglossis Royale Mixed being a bit short of space I grew them in a large pot……I think I was thinking they were very old fashioned and garish! How wrong was I…they grew brilliantly the flowers were absolutely gorgeous the more I cut them for Church flower arranging the more they came…..hence ordering each year….I love them….I also grow ferns and hostages as I have a lot of shade in my garden and they thrive. This is my first attempt at blogging!!!!

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