Time and trends

Been away attending the Garden Writers Association annual symposium. This year it was in Portland, Ore., a beautiful, environmentally advanced city right up next to the Washington state border. It has MAX, a super light-rail system that will sour you on SEPTA in an instant. It has layers of recycling everywhere, even composting of restaurant scraps in our hotel! But what drew us there, mostly, was the opportunity to visit some extraordinary gardens - the city’s famous Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden and many artistic and thoughtful residential gardens.
I’ll be posting soon about some of them. But first I want to share what seemed to be two of the major themes of the conference this year. They’re not exactly new but there is decidedly more momentum behing them these days.
1. Ever more compact varieties of popular plants like hydrangea, rose, gardenia, butterfly bush and many others. This trend is fueled by the fact that more Americans are living in or downsizing to smaller spaces - and that we’re all so darned busy. Everyone seems to want less work, whether in the office, home or garden. (I’m for that!)
2. Organic everything. It wasn’t so long ago, some of the old-timers told me - and that would be just about everybody at this symposium, since they’ve all been doing this longer than I have - that the mere mention of organic products would provoke an argument at a gathering of garden writers.
Not anymore. Even the major purveyors of synthetic fertilizers and ‘cides are pushing organic lines. So while the shelves of your local big-box store are still jammed from floor to ceiling with toxic stuff designed to kill anything that moves - and plenty that doesn’t - you’ll also find a growing number of organic products.
It’s about time.
Speaking of which, I’m about out of that commodity. Catch you later.