The Quotable Gardener

I recently derived much pleasure from “The Quotable Gardener,” by Kathy Ishizuka (McGraw-Hill; $14.25), which contains quotations from all types of gardeners, from Sir Francis Bacon to Martha Stewart. The book examines virtually every gardening topic under the sun.
A statement in the “Rain/Watering” section caught my eye: “If constant sprinkling is needed, nature is clearly suggesting that an alternative would be better.” He is correct.
Having to water a Valley lawn virtually every summer day is nature’s way of telling us we are silly to have lawns. There is no other place on earth with a climate as dry as ours where lawns are so popular.
Yet some would argue that the whole idea of gardening is to overcome nature. Author Anne Scott-James says, “Lovers of nature are curiously reluctant to admit that a completely natural garden is a contradiction in terms.”
Plant watchers see beauty in the most common garden species, including weeds. “Take the dandelion for instance,” says Mirabel Osler. “Pick a bunch of them in spring and stuff them so closely together that they form a brilliant yellow pincushion standing in a blue clay pot, and I defy anyone to say they look awful.”
Gardeners, it would seem, are people with an expanded capacity for recognizing beauty.
Regarding a recent column on jacaranda trees, I received an e-mail from Trudy Sibley of Northridge. “I have a jacaranda in the front yard that is approximately 30 years old,” Sibley writes, “and it has not grown like others in the neighborhood. The trunk is not as robust and the flowers are kind of stingy. Any ideas as to what is wrong?”
Wind is an inhibitor of the jacaranda’s flower development. If your tree is exposed to the northwest – which is the direction from which prevailing winds blow in the Valley – this could explain the lack of bloom.
Jacarandas also need full sun to grow and flower their best, so check if your tree is shaded.
TIP OF THE WEEK: If you are considering planting an all-American flower bed for the Fourth of July, consider the following, some of which were suggested by Mary Pat McClatchy of Garden Media Group. In sun, for red, select ivy or zonal geranium, petunia, pentas and trailing verbena; for white, zonal geranium, petunia and trailing white lantana; for blue, lobelia, petunia, ageratum and dwarf agapanthus. In shade, pick red and white begonias, as well as red, white and purple impatiens.

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