It often astonishes me to see the sheer diversity of plants available to us here in the Upper Midwest. One would think that the combination of severe winters, often-hot summers, and short growing season would limit the Minnesota gardener. However, it is really quite the opposite, and certainly not the case for us at Tangletown Gardens.
We get energized by the plethora of options the plant kingdom provides us each season—it’s our livelihood, our passion. Tangletown Gardens co-owner Dean Engleman and I like to push the envelope with what we offer our guests, while helping to achieve the garden of their dreams. The pursuit of interesting plants for our gardens is part of the fun of what we do, and keeps people coming back again and again—like kids to a candy store.
Every year, triggered by demand, a never-ending stream of new introductions and improved cultivars of old standbys flood the market. Science and advances in plant genetics have paved the way for this superhighway of plants never before available.
We offered several thousand annual, perennial, and woody plant varieties last season at Tangletown Gardens, plus a thousand or more vegetable and herb varieties, as starter plants at the garden center, or planted out in our fields for our CSA members. We’ll have even more varieties on the horizon this spring.
It is easy to get excited about the newest fabulous cultivar, but is the latest always the greatest? Not always. After all, the power of the airbrush and the printed word in a glossy advertisement can be deceiving at the very least—and often persuasive enough to make us race to the garden center to buy what we expect to bring everything short of nirvana to our garden.
Do these wonder plants work wonders? Does it matter? Isn’t the pursuit of perfect plants for our gardens part of the fun of gardening?
We think so, and attempt to eliminate the varieties that don’t make the cut, while always trying new plants. A lot of plant options are out there for you to discover. Have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to try something new.
In future Lavender garden articles, I hope to share firsthand my knowledge of plants and design, along with the lessons I have learned along the way, but most importantly, to inspire you to pick up the trowel, and celebrate the beauty of plants and gardening. After all, the great diversity of plants today makes this an exciting time to be a gardener.
Scott Endres is co-owner of Tangletown Gardens in Minneapolis. Visit www.tangletowngardens.com. His every-other-issue garden article will appear in Lavender throughout the year.