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Re: OT: Rare plants

From: Irisborer@aol.com

I have wanted to jump into this discussion, but haven't had the time during 
the week.  Rare and Unusual plants are a topic dear to my heart... for many 
reasons (one of them being that I chair a fund-raiser for the Buffalo 
Botanical Gardens called the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale).  I am a plant 
collector.... not a knowledgable one by any stretch of the imagination, but a 
willing and endlessly interested student.

First of all, in plantdom, rare does not necessarily mean the same thing it 
does in stamp-collecting.  That is, since we are talking about a living 
thing, chances are that there are far more than one of any item.  I am not 
referring, of course, to endangered plants... but propogated, 
commercially-available plant material.  So rare can mean "more demand than 
supply", or it can mean "not commonly grown".  Either way, it's exciting to 
get turned on to a new plant or a new aspect of plants.

And rare is often a substitute for 'unusual' or 'not commonly available'.  
Here in Buffalo, many things are considered 'rare', that are ho-hum for many 
plant folks.  The variety of heucheras that's out there, for one example.  
People here are still getting disappointed over PALACE PURPLE.  So when we 
have our plant sale.....we tell our donors not to be put off by the 'rare' 

Folks collect plants for many reasons.  There are the organized and creative 
people who paint with their gardens and who are looking for a plant with 
specific criteria to fill a particular spot in the garden.  There are the 
specialists (some of us here) who are enamored with one cultivar and who want 
a collection that expresses the range available in that cultivar....  there 
are the scientists who get off on the challange of growing a tempermental or 
questionably hardy plant.... and there are people who collect a range of 
plants that express one desirable trait (variegated plants.... black stemmed 
plants...  edible plants.... fragrant plants...)

I had a man in my garden last week who is responsible for coordinating 
outreach for Cornell in New York State (the extension agents).  He was vastly 
amused by my jumble (I prefer "eclectic") of a garden - and said that he 
teaches a course on types of gardeners.  I fall under the "crammer" title.  

I personally looooove to get turned onto a new plant.  I love to have someone 
share with me WHY they love a certain plant... so I can love it too.  My 
mottos include:

1.  Whatever's in bloom is what I love best
2.  I want, therefore I am
3.  If I planted everything I bought, I didn't buy enough

I love wildflowers and bulbs, alpines and bog plants, primroses and 
arisaemas....  I love plants that bloom, and plants that don't.  I love black 
stems and the underside of some leaves.  I love variegated leaves and leaves 
with interesting shapes.  I love fragrant flowers.... and reeking flowers (I 
have an amorphophallus JUST about to bloom on my 'guest book table' 
outside.....  )

I love to grow plants from seed..... and I love to share and swap with my 
friends.  I love to find interesting nurseries (heading for Massachusetts 
next weekend, and looking forward to connecting with some fellow 
plantophiles, Marty and Jan of Joe Pye Weeds... and also getting to Leo 
Blanchette's nursery).  I love variegated plants of all kinds.

I tend to join societies because it's a great way to become immersed in lore 
about a particular plant.... and I also tend to join mailing lists  (more in 
the winter) on plants to learn more about them.  OneList has a stellar 
selection of lists to join.... and there are lots of others out there.

As I was JUST mentioning to a friend yesterday......  I am so glad to have 
this passion to keep me engaged and goal oriented.  My job is undergoing some 
disturbing changes lately, my mother-in-law will need longterm care, my kids 
are doing things kids do (worry parents - no matter WHAT their ages) and my 
husband and I are facing some big ticket home repairs.  If I didn't have my 
garden, I could get cranky indeed.

I used to have a bumpersticker that I loved.  It said "When life fails to 
satisfy, there's always the garden".

Kathy Guest.... avoiding the work she needs to do to get ready for the hem 
and hosta tour today in E. Aurora, NY

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