Why Good Looking Plants Aren't Always Good

We live in a world where at the tap of an app, something turns up at our door. We're not ones to complain, as that is the very service we offer here at Plant Drop. But in the same way an amazing dish delivered in minutes, is made delicious by the cheese that was aged for 3 years, and the Chef's many years of dedication, our plants are remarkable because an expert grower has taken time to nurture this plant. The distinction we are trying to convey is that speed of delivery is a given today, but the speed of which something becomes tasteful, or wonderful to look at, is not entirely within our control. It is a waiting game, taking the time to let nature follow its natural course.

This is a poignant point for us and the title of this article, as we can often be duped by something looking good, and regarding it as being good. Imagine that chef rushing the ageing process, would the cheese taste the same? Would the dish be so great? The same can be said of plants grown under glass and sold to look good for a moment. That cheese may pass the pallet quickly, but it won't linger so memorably like the naturally aged cheese that took the time to become great. That is exactly what we miss when we choose plants for our garden that just look good now, rather than those that will stay with us, grow and become ever more beautiful. 

We actively avoid plants in beautiful flower, partly because we are suspicious when we plants in flower when they naturally wouldn't be, like geranium flowering in February, but also because we don't want to rob you of the chance to see that show. Much better we think to plant something not looking Chelsea Flower Show ready - those growers have all forced their specimens on in greenhouses to meet the exhibition - but with good chunky, developed roots, that will put down rapidly and effortlessly in the garden. The energy of the grower placed not in the fleeting blooms of one season, but in the perennial nature of the plant to give more year after year. To grow a plant to grow, and grow well. Not just to be seen and enjoyed for a week here, now. 

That isn't to say that a good looking plant can't be a good rooted plant, but by paying attention to the seasons, looking more closely at what's below the top of the pot, we can start to garden more economically and environmentally friendly; as a plant grown to flower for many years takes a similar amount of energy to produce as one forced on in heated glasshouses, under bright lights, and shipped in plastic pots for just one season of interest, for the whole process to only be begin again next year. This was a view point that landed Monty Don in some murky water in the beginning of the first national lockdown when the annual bedding growers were forced to dispose of their plants. We not only helped distribute some of those plants to new homes, but took a less clear-cut view, as we have seen the joy that annual bedding can bring, and how in sheltered London annuals can be quite perennial, as one of our customers can protest having had some of her geranium for 17 years. 

For us it is more about appreciating the life-cycle of a plant and to consider that old idiom, good things come to those who wait. 


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