Have you noticed how complicated it has become to buy yogurt? What used to be a fairly straightforward decision is now a positively Herculean task. In the old days, all you had to do was choose between plain and flavored, fat and non-fat. Now an entire wing of the supermarket is devoted to yogurt. Greek or cow's milk. Splenda or sugar. Extra Lactobacillus acidophilus. Square container or round.
Buying plants has become like buying yogurt. Ever since the garden catalogue avalanche began in January, I have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, wracked by indecision as I debated the merits of amsonia hubrechtii vs. amsonia tabernaemontana, the nuances among the different varieties of flowering tobacco, and all those new buddleia introductions. Meanwhile, the pressure is mounting as the calendar marches inexorably toward spring.
I have an unusually large number of decisions to make this year. Nature has blessed me with a bumper crop of garden bare spots, as well as two little garden beds that require complete makeovers. Ordinarily, I would be delighted by the chance to try new plants and fix past design disasters. Instead, I am paralyzed. There are too many choices.
To narrow things down, though, I have made one resolution: no new introductions. Sometimes it takes a few years to find out that the latest and greatest is not really all it's cracked up to be. A case in point: one of the beds in need of a makeover is currently occupied by three Hot New Plants circa 2006. "Raspberry Dazzle" dwarf crape myrtles was part of the first wave of shorter (3 feet), more cold hardy (zone 6) crape myrtles developed by plant guru Michael Dirr and marketed as the Razzle Dazzle series. My philosophy is that you can never have too many crape myrtles, especially when they are compact enough to fit into a border and remind me of my all-time favorite Crayola crayon, magenta. So naturally I snatched them up.
It turns out that nobody's perfect, not even Michael Dirr. Raspberry Dazzle is a dud. In six years, I have never, ever seen as much as one bud on any of them. An online garden forum confirmed my suspicions: when it comes to blooming, Raspberry Dazzle would prefer not to. Now it has been booted from the market to make way for a better Hot New Plant. Its name? "Berry Dazzle." If you don't think it's different, check the patent number. I'll bet it blooms, too.
Back in the living room, the catalogues are everywhere and my decision-making is nowhere. My current fixation is that fabulous new Buddleia, Miss Molly. Or is it Miss Ruby? No matter. I love them both. They're compact enough to fit into a border and remind me of my all-time favorite Crayola crayon, magenta. If they are still on the market in 5 years, I may just spring for one.
The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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