Is gardening in the South harder than in other regions of the country? That’s what some transplanted Northerners think, but the Grump disagrees.
I was perusing another blog the other day, Garden Rant (see the link below), when I ran into an article written by Allan Armitage, Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia and one of the foremost experts on growing perennials in the South. Allan’s a transplant himself and he made the case that growing perennials and other plants down here is harder than it is up North.
Well, the Grump just had to weigh in. This is the response I posted:
“Hey, I grew up in Maryland and have spent the last 26 years in Alabama. You don’t need any map to tell you whether you live in the North or South. All you need to do is observe your neighbors. If they grow rhubarb, you’re a Northerner. If they grow okra, you’re a Southerner. If they offer you a slice of rhubarb-okra pie, do not accept.
I totally disagree that gardening is harder in the South. Every region presents its challenges. For example, try Las Vegas in July. You don’t have to worry about root rot and powdery mildew! It never rains and the relative humidity is about 0. Of course, it’s also 112 degrees in the shade for weeks at a time, which is why most residents prefer to lose their virginity in a casino than their sanity in a garden.
All one needs to do to succeed in gardening anywhere is look around at what grows with no care from you and make that the backbone of your garden. Choose plants adapted to your climate. Here in the Southeast, where summer means endless heat and humidity and winter is short and mild, we can’t grow lilac. But we can grow crepe myrtle, a vastly superior plant. All sorts of semi-tropical and tropical plants offer us spectacular flowers and foliage for months on end. Plus, we can have something blooming in the yard every month of the year. So I don’t cry about gardening in the South — unless it’s my turn to eat the rhubarb-okra pie.”
Top 10 Better Alternatives for the South
To reinforce my point that the South gives gardeners great opportunities, here’s a list of 10 plants we can’t grow well and 10 we can. As you’ll see, the South gets the long end of the stick.
We Can’t Grow……
3. Foxtail Lily
4. Norway Spruce
8. Quaking Aspen
9. Mountain Ash
But We Can Grow
1. Crepe Myrtle
3. Ginger Lily
4. Southern Magnolia
5. Japanese Persimmon
8. Lenten Rose
9. Live Oak
Any other examples y’all can think of?: