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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Tuesday
Nov102009

Does Your Garden Book Have an Expiry Date?

Geranium cinereum Ballerina, photo credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plant_finder/plant_pages/346.shtmlA few years ago, I came across a garden book containing photos of beautiful flower compositions. One designer had used Geranium cinereum Ballerina as the focus of a perennial arrangement. This plant, which was striking as a specimen, looked even more attractive when used in a composition. Ballerina had everything the gardener could possibly want. It was pink, beautiful, bloomed for a very long time and combined well with other perennials.

There was one problem, though: I was unable to find Ballerina at the nurseries or in mail order catalogues. After hunting for several years, I finally found an explanation for its scarcity in a magazine article. The author had included a photo of this pretty plant with a caveat that it was short lived. Then I understood. Nurseries stopped selling Ballerina when hybridizers created equally pretty, but more reliable, cultivar that came back every season.

There is an ironic twist to this situation. If breeders keep replacing older varieties with newer ones, it will become risky for editors to use photos of perennials that might fall out of favor after a book is published. Many recently released books have already adapted to this reality by focusing more on principles of garden design rather than by showcasing specific plants. 

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Reader Comments (1)

Interesting point. I had 'Ballerina' at one time -- and thought its demise was my fault. A lot of the Heucheras that were hot new introductions a few years ago have been found to be wanting, and are now being replaced by more resilient models. So, you're quite right; garden editors and photographers do have a challenge.

November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHelen at Toronto Gardens

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