Taste in Flowers.

Taste in plants changes and flowers are subject to fashion like everything else. Most gardeners shrink in horror at the idea of red salvias grown with French marigolds and pink Busy Lizzies. Many flowers that our parents loved are disliked now. Gardeners can be very snobbish about the sort of flowers they will allow into their gardens. It is really strange to think that something as lovely as a flower can be considered vulgar. The Victorians loved annuals as carpet bedding. It showed that they could afford large greenhouses and many gardeners. When these same annuals  became popular with the masses they became vulgar.

Brasov, Transylvania

Bedding plants Brasov, Transylvania

The great horticulturist Jenny Robinson used to live just down the road from me. She was a formidable lady who died in 2010 aged 94. Roy Lancaster called her: ‘The Grande Dame of Horticulture’. Amongst other rare and lovely plants, she grew amazing fritillaries, lilies and small bulbs of all kinds. Her garden was featured in ‘The Englishwoman’ s Garden’ by Alvide Lees-Milne and Rosemary Verey. It was considered a great honour to be invited to her lily sniffing parties. She was the arbiter of taste in Suffolk plant circles. Flowers she considered vulgar she always called ‘ Hanging basket flowers’ and you would be amazed at the sort of flowers that she included in this general condemnation. Any gardener who grew what she considered  to be vulgar plants was dismissed as:  ‘the sort of person who has hanging baskets’ . You don’ t see many hanging baskets round here. Sometimes she would inform you that she was coming to visit your garden. It was like a royal visitation. I used to open for the National Gardens Scheme but that was nothing like as nerve- wracking as a visit from Jenny. You dreaded the lips pursed in disapproval at some floral solecism.  Approval from her was something to be treasured and boasted about. After all she was incredibly knowledgeable.

But Jenny grew up in a time when plant snobbism was rife. It was a time when not just individual plants but a whole colour could be condemned as vulgar. The great plants woman Gertrude Jekyll spoke about ‘malignant magenta’.   E. A. Bowles called it ‘that awful form of original sin’ . Most garden writers at this time spoke about magenta as if the very presence of such a vulgar colour would contaminate the garden.  Basically magenta flowers were considered ‘common’. This is very odd when one considers that the very word was only coined in 1860 when a new aniline dye was created and named after the Battle of Magenta which took place in 1859. I am not sure what the colour was called before the invention of this artificially produced dye.   I can find no reference to it in earlier garden writing. Jekyll was writing at the time when adherents of the Arts and Crafts Movement were advocating a return to Nature. Magenta was associated with industrialisation and the availability of artificially produced dyes for textiles that were cheap. The dye was arsenic based and it was only a while ago that people had been poisoned by the arsenic in their wall papers and clothes. The aversion although illogical continued for decades. In the 1970s and 80s people were very careful to plant only pastel shades with silver foliage. I knew several people who said proudly that they would never allow yellow into their gardens. Gradually stronger colours have been reinstated but I’m not sure to what extent magenta has been welcomed back into the fold. Vita Sackville West was not afraid to use it in her purple border and in fact it is the magenta which makes this bed really zing. I love this clump of Geranium psilostemon right in the middle of the bed.

I have to admit that influenced by my reading of early twentieth century gardening books I took a long time to come round to magenta but now I really appreciate the way it brings a border to life. But I am afraid that I do have a list of disliked plants;  I don’t think that it is anything to do with fashion  and  I do regularly revisit my prejudices and try to look with fresh eyes at the objects of my dislike.

Less- Loved Plants.

Tuberous begonias. I loathe the big, blowsy, overhybridised varieties that you see in hanging baskets. Oh dear I’m turning into Jenny. I took this shot at the Farm Shop and had difficulty explaining my objections to the Pianist.
I love the dainty single flowers of Begonia sutherlandii but the hybridisers have been too busy with the one in the Farm Shop. Basically, I generally prefer single flowers to double ones.

Begonia sutherlandii

Begonia sutherlandii

Gladioli.  Horrid, great big spikey things. Well to me they are just too Dame Edna Everage. But I didn’ t like them before Dame Edna started throwing them at her audience. But I love the little ones like Gladiolus nanus.  And who could dislike the adorable Gladiolus robinetta?

Gladiolus robinetta

Gladiolus robinetta

I am sorry if I am going to upset my American blogging friends but, ( and I must whisper this as it almost seems to be the American national flower,) I dislike many  Hemerocallis. And why are they called Day lilies? They belong to the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, not Lilium. Although it is true that each flower only lasts for a day. Many of them are over- hybridised and vulgar and don’ t get me started on their names. There  is an English one called ‘Droopy Drawers’ but even worse  is the American one named after an article of underwear that I wouldn’t care to mention on my nice respectable blog.  And how can you grow something called ‘Big Honking French Kisses’ or ‘Kissy Poo’? I am a serious gardener and I can’t imagine having gardening friends visit the garden and inviting them to come and look at my ‘Droopy Drawers’. Having said I dislike day lilies I did rather like some of the ones that Pauline showed in a recent post on her blog; Leadupthegardenpath. Maybe I will be converted as long as they don’t have silly names and are not too frilly.

Incidentally, talking about silly names, how can you possibly buy a Hydrangea called ‘Pinky Winky’ ?

Hydrangeas.  I always hated them. I  associated them with bungalows in seaside towns. I hate the wishy washy way that many of them can’ t decide whether to be blue or pink unless the soil is sufficiently acid. But I have overcome my dislike and love several of the tribe. I enjoy the big dramatic, felty leaves of Hydrangea aspera villosa. I enjoy ‘Annabelle’ and Hydrangea paniculata to name but a few.

Dahlias. My grandmother grew these and was very proud of the enormous size and brilliance in colour of the blooms. Even as a child I loved flowers and examined them closely. Dahlias had a smell I disliked and they were always covered in earwigs. I thought that they were gross. It has taken me many years to look at them with fresh eyes and decide I like them. In fact I have even tried growing them from seed and I showed you my favourite recently. I am inordinately proud of it so I will show it to you again.

Kniphofia. Red Hot Pokers like the ubiquitous’ Atlanta’ were always anathema to me; bright red and vulgar. Well, I still don’ t like ‘Atlanta’ but there are plenty I do like. I’ll show you some of my favourites in another post.

So I am making progress with my prejudices but there are the plants that I still don’ t like despite trying to see them with fresh eyes.

Leycesteria Formosa. I hate it. I have no idea why. I just do. I have a good friend who loves it. She has several in her garden. Several too many for my liking.

Spiraea Japonica ‘ Goldflame’. Hate it, hate it, hate it. There is one in my garden that I scowl at every time I walk past. When I have the energy I will dig it up. In the meantime I cut off the pink flowers that look awful with the yellow leaves.
Hypericum. I have no idea why I can’ t love The Rose of Sharon. If I try to forget my prejudice and  look at the flowers, I have to admit they are beautiful. But sorry, I don’ t like it.
Tradescantia virginiana. This plant is known as Spiderwort and what a good name for it. Horrid, spidery thing with mean little flowers. I know they are blue and we all love blue. But really I think the great Tradescant should be remembered by something less weedy than this. I do grow it; here it is in my garden. But its days are probably numbered.

There are more but I had better stop now. I hope I haven’ t upset anyone with my prejudices.  I suppose if I tell you I don’t like something you grow and love it is a bit like coming into your house and saying I don’t like your soft furnishings, what a horrible lamp and I hate your pictures. If you have grown and nurtured it from seed, it is even worse. Then it is like saying what ugly children you have.

But I am sure most of you have your own lists, if not of hated plants then of unloved ones.  Many of your loathed plants may be on my list of choicest and most treasured, so please don’ t be offended if I hate a plant you love. It is a good thing that we don’ t all like the same plants. Variety is the spice of life, so please tell me which plants you hate or don’ t like and why. If you know why that is.

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68 Responses to Taste in Flowers.

  1. Jane Strong says:

    Absolutely fabulous, brave post. Looking forward to seeing others’ contributions.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jane. I hope people will tell us which plants they don’ t like too. I shall feel awful if everyone says ‘I love all plants!’

  2. TheDigger says:

    Hahahaha, love it. I think everyone has a garden snob in them somewhere. I don’t know if it’s still in print but I bought my mum a really funny book called ‘Yew and Non-Yew’ (see what they did there?) about garden snobbery.

    I too have a hatred of thousands of bedding plants, but I have to say I’d secretly be a bit disappointed if the local council suddenly started using an understated and tasteful planting scheme.

    • Chloris says:

      Oh I’ m going to have to look for this book. What fun, I wish I’ d seen it before I wrote this post.
      Council colour schemes don’ t have to be garish like the one in Transylvania. In France every roundabout has lovely flower combinations.

  3. Laurin Lindsey says:

    Really a charming post! I would have loved to be invited to one of Jenny’s sniffing parties. I love little lilies and such. But I would be terrified to have her in my garden. It is funny what one does and doesn’t like, I really don’t like carnations and have no idea why. I do get bored with things…lately I have been more interested in foliage than flowers. Thank you for the history…magenta is a bit bold : )

    • Chloris says:

      Carnations! That’ s another one. Horrible although I love pinks.
      I think as you get more involved with gardening you become more aware of the importance of foliage.

  4. rusty duck says:

    Crikey, I would agree with many on this list. I like hydrangeas when they are fading and am smitten with paniculatas. And having said forever that I can’t stand dahlias, last week I bought two. The sort with the nice dark leaves mind, and small flowers, not the size of dinner plates such as my father used to grow. Most hated plants? The Spanish bluebell and large blowsy daffodils, both of which I have inherited and are almost impossible to remove.

    • Chloris says:

      I think on the whole you have a similar taste in plants to me, Jessica.. We both dislike over- hybridised plants and prefer species plants such as daffodils. I have given up trying to get rid of my Spanish bluebells. I don’ t dislike them but I worry that they are a threat to our native ones.

  5. Thank you for this post.
    I have that book right here beside me. Jenny Robinson’s story about her gardens at The Chequers starts on page 113. She made me laugh when she called “motor mowers” “the spawn of the devil, and to be eschewed at all costs”.
    I love garden humour and she not only had a great garden, she had a way of writing about it.
    Is the garden still in good shape?

    • Chloris says:

      Jenny certainly had a great sense of humour but she didn’ t suffer fools gladly and she could be quite sharp as she was entitled to be at her great age.
      When she died she arranged for her precious plants to be taken by experienced plants men such as Christopher Grey – Wilson. The garden now is neat and cared for but the owners are not horticulturalists and there are no longer exciting rare plants grown there.

  6. gardenfancyblog says:

    I really do think that this is more of a British thing, this plant snobbery (I have “Yew and Non-Yew” and find it fascinating), although there are certainly American gardeners — particularly those on the East coast — who exhibit signs of it. There is, of course, the eco-variant of snobbery, those who believe that only native plants or suchlike should be permissible (or even legal, for the most totalitarian of them). I do believe that the New Perennials movement, which although it is European in origin uses many plants of American origin, has been largely instrumental in breaking down the previous British color snobbery. There are just too many brightly flowered plants promoted by the NP movement to allow for the traditional English fear of bright colors.

    I myself love all flower colors — the brighter, the better: petunias and marigolds and impatiens (“busy Lizzies”!), colors all mixed together. I’m one of the rare women who is mildly color-blind, so perhaps that’s why. I’m often suspicious of pale, wishy-washy, bland non-colors, but this could be because I sometimes I’m uncertain whether something is palest pink or gray. The only color combination that I find objectionable is hot pink and orangey red together — even I can see that this is disturbing, although I wouldn’t faint at the sight, like genteel ladies visiting Great Dixter. 🙂

    As for “common” flowers, there is a very good reason why petunias, etc. are so commonly planted: because they flower for extended periods and require little upkeep. This is a good thing. But we’re all entitled to like what we like, and the garden world would be less varied if we all planted the same things, as you pointed out. Very interesting topic! -Beth

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you for your contribution Beth. I think you are probably right that the fashion for New Perennial planting helped to make bright colours fashionable. I think it definitely reinstated daisy type flowers.
      But apart from plant snobbery and fashion many of us have a few plants or colour combinations that we dislike for whatever reason. You don’ t like pink and orange, I hate pink and yellow. I like it that we all like or dislike different plants. Vive la difference!

  7. Alain says:

    What an interesting and entertaining post! I will have to find my copy of the English Woman’s Garden to look up your Jenny.
    I hope none of my friends read this as I have never dared voiced this before – I also dislike day lilies. Especially the large ones that look like a wet paper tissue when they are fading. It is the coarse fleshy texture I do not like. I have some of the small-flower ones that dies gracefully and are so much more elegant. I suppose all this can be explained by the fact that I am too lazy at deadheading.
    I am also put off by the name given to some poor plants. One of my best performing rose is called Tootie’s Rockin’ K (in actual fact I think my own plant was mislabeled as it does not correspond to Tootie’s – perhaps I should just make up a name for it).
    Fashion in flower is fascinating. I remember being surprised to read (in The Flower Garden by E R. Jane 1952) that for many decades pelargonium had then not been seen in Britain, they were too old-fashioned. Or reading in an Ontario horticultural report from before the 1st world war that over 100 varieties of bedding verbena were available (how many would you find today!) They must have been important in bedding out schemes.
    Thank you for an entertaining post!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you for your interesting comment Alain. I’ m glad you see what I mean about Day lilies. Wet paper tissue is a good description and I don’ t like the coarse, fleshy texture either. It is not a very refined plant. And those names!
      You really can’ t have a rose called ‘Tootie’ s Rockin’ K’ . Dear me, no. Do call it something else. Perhaps ‘ Alain’ s Delight’?
      I belong to Plant Heritage and we try to find and preserve plants that have fallen into neglect.

  8. Gosh you are brave! I think we all have favorites and dislikes, so this was a fun post to read. There are very few plants I don’t like, but any monoculture of plant makes me feel nauseated. And, God forbid, my least-favorite plant in a monoculture landscape! It’s so overused by landscapers in my part of the world that I want to scream! That plant is the Hemerocallis Stella d’Oro. Everywhere I look in retail settings I see Stella d’Oro–and often all by itself with nothing else around. So overused and obnoxious! Then again, it’s OK if only one is used in a mixed planting. (OK, thanks for letting me rant.)

    • Chloris says:

      That’ s funny, I have read other American bloggers say how they dislike Stella d’ Oro. It must be seriously over- used there to raise such strong feelings. You don’ t see it here so often so it seems quite an inoffensive little plant to me. Much better than those big frilly ones. Clearly any plant which one sees everywhere becomes first boring and then disliked. I think that is perhaps why I hate Hypericum. You find it used a lot in public planting schemes.

  9. pbmgarden says:

    Fascinating and entertaining Chloris.

    • Chloris says:

      Thanks Susie. Any disliked plants from you? Come on there must be something.

      • pbmgarden says:

        I’m keeping mum, but you did hit some of my favorites: hydrangeas and gladioli. I have loved tradescantia for years but two years ago became allergic to it and have been trying to eradicate it from my garden. You’re right though, it is weedy after the first flush of flowers.

  10. Kris P says:

    I too love this post, Chloris. While I don’t like to think of myself as a snob in most respects, I have to admit to a degree of botanical snobbery – despite the impressions Beth expressed above, I also think such snobbery is fairly widespread among US gardeners (or at least among people who have “gardens” as opposed to “yards”).

    You’re right that what’s widely available or “common” provides a convenient target. I still remember a conversation I had many years ago in which a co-worker told me about her garden, planted with petunias and marigolds if I recall correctly, which I promptly labeled “pedestrian.” I didn’t mean to be unkind (really! I just wanted her to open her eyes to other possibilities) but I think she was taken aback by the implied criticism (which was also impolitic on my part as she was my mentor and higher up the food chain). I’ve been more circumspect in my feedback since then but I definitely have my prejudices, even as my tastes continue to evolve. Like many Americans, I fell in love with the classic English gardens that dominated garden literature and I still have a fixation on peonies and all manner of things that are close to impossible to grow in Southern California. However, I’ve come to respect some plants I previously dismissed, like Agapanthus, which grow everywhere here. In fact, I’ve developed a definite enthusiasm for plants that will survive the heat waves we get with increasingly frequency in summer and the miserable drought conditions we’re currently experiencing. Daylilies were a novelty for me when I moved here – I couldn’t grow them in my former, shady garden – and I acquired quite a few evergreen varieties but I continue to be frustrated by the 40+ plants of a dormant variety I inherited with the house. When you can garden all year round, you don’t really want the empty spots created by dormant daylilies from October through December. But, 5 years ago, if you’d have told me that I’d have succulents, Grevilleas, Leucadendron, and Phormium throughout my garden, I’d have said you didn’t know me. Well, apparently, I didn’t know myself. I still don’t like petunias and marigolds, though…

  11. Chloris says:

    Thank you Kris. I’ m still chuckling about you telling your co- worker that her planting scheme was pedestrian. I can see that that might not go down too well.
    Our tastes are formed to a certain extent by the sort of plants that we can grow in our own gardens although that doesn’ t stop us hankering for the sort of plants that just won’ t do for us. And it is true that our taste changes.. I used to loathe succulents but now I love them. My daughter who is new to gardening hates them. I shall be interested to see if this is an acquired taste and whether she will come round to them.

  12. Pauline says:

    What a wonderful topic, couldn’t help but laugh when I read about Day Lilies! At my age I can just forget (on purpose) if a plant has a daft name, if you like the plant, then buy it and just forget what it is called! Hypericum is one of my plants that I just about tolerate but Hypericum prolificum is another matter, more of a small 6ft tree with thousands of tiny yellow powder puffs for flowers, it is flowering at the moment, the bees love it and so do I ! When I first started planting here, I just wanted one of everything but soon learnt that it was far better to go with the flow and have lots of fewer varieties that really like my soil. Really I don’t think I dislike any plants but obviously prefer plants that I know will grow well for me, and that includes the day lilies!

    • Chloris says:

      But you really can’ t have a day lily called Droopy Drawers. How could you forget that? Or show it on your blog neatly captioned? Having been rude about day lilies I did like the ones on your recent post.
      I don’ t know Hypericum prolificum. A tree would be more interesting than the usual shrubs that you see everywhere.

  13. Cathy says:

    How brave of you to come clean and be honest about all the flowers you dislike…. although there seem to be quite a lot! I can only think of one I really don’t like…. busy lizzies! Not sure why. They always look insipid in summer bedding and rarely look happy. Marigolds are borderline. Apart from that there are just a few (mostly thorny) shrubs I’m not keen on, and a few flowers I wouldn’t want in my garden (like Tradescantia). I must admit I love those frilly begonias, and Hypericum too! It was interesting hearing about Jenny, but I’m rather glad no one is likely to come looking round my garden and commenting!

    • Chloris says:

      Oh but there are lots more. I didn’ t even start on the pricklies I dislike. And I forgot to mention shrubby Potentillas or those Verbascums with big , felty leaves.
      I do like white busy lizzies under trees. I grow them under the silver weeping pear.

  14. Flighty says:

    An interesting post and lovely photos. With limited space for flowers on the plot I mostly grow what I really like, and that certainly doesn’t include summer bedding plants! I also grow with bees and butterflies in mind so shy away from doubles. xx

  15. mrsdaffodil says:

    Fascinating about aniline dyes and the Battle of Magenta. Also, I’m enchanted by the idea of a lily sniffing party!

    • Chloris says:

      Yes a lily sniffing party is a lovely idea. Jenny grew some very special lilies. I don’ t have enough. I am determined to grow more lilies next year. They are such a delight at this time of the year.

  16. You know, I’ve a half written post sitting in my drafts folder along similar lines as this post Chloris. I never did get round to finishing it, purely because I could not justify my dislike for some of the plants and didn’t want my inexperience to sound ignorant.
    Thoroughly enjoyed this read and there are one or two, maybe even three or four of your choices that are on my list too. Bedding plants are top of the list, closely followed by Carnations and Dahlias – that will do for now. Maybe one day I’ll get round to finishing that post.

    • Chloris says:

      Oh do finish it Angie, I would love to read about your unloved plants. Sometimes you just don’ t have a reason for disliking something. You just don’ t like it. I don’ t know why I don’t like Leycesteria. But I don’ t.
      Go on have a good rant. And then we can all agree with you or get very indignant and protective. Either way, it is fun.

  17. snowbird says:

    Ha! How I enjoyed this post! I love a straight talking gal and agree with you, some plants are simply over bred and look monstrous and do little for wildlife or adding scent to a garden. And as for some of the names….sighs…
    Good heavens….I’m glad I haven’t have a visitor like Jenny tut around my garden, she does sound a character though, and I do love a character.xxx

  18. Chloris says:

    Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed my post. I really didn’ t intend upsetting anyone, it is only a bit of fun. I think it is great that we all have different tastes and enjoy growing different things.
    Jenny is no longer with us but I still have friends who are quite outspoken about what they like or don’ t like in my garden. Which is great. I like peoples’ honest opinions.

  19. This is a brilliant post. I have thought about the subject of plant snobbery as well, though I never really put it down in writing. I would disagree with gardenfancyblog who thinks this is a British thing. There is plenty of plant snobbery on this side of the Atlantic, some of it committed by yours truly.

    In terms of my own plant prejudices: what I hate most are hybrid purple coneflowers in bizarre colors, especially the double ones. I dislike double flowers in general. I dislike pink or blue hydrangeas but I like the white ones like ‘Annabelle’. I don’t like red salvia but I do like marigolds and petunias, vulgar or not. For me, annuals are for containers and occasionally for mixed borders, not for bedding out. Some people dislike Rudbeckia fulgida or hirta simply because they are common. This is a good example of plant snobbery. I like them. Sorry, but I also like daylilies and spiderwort.

  20. Chloris says:

    Thank you Jason and I am delighted to hear about all your plant prejudices. I don’ t like over hybridised plants or doubles as a rule but illogically I like all the new weird and wonderful Echinaceas. They never survive more than one year in the garden though, so they are a waste of time.
    I think its great to hear about what people don’ t like for a change. We are always talking about what we do like.

  21. Great article Chloris. Fashion and taste is such an interesting subject whether it be about style, interiors or gardens. The history of Magenta is one of the reasons I like it, and I find Gladioli Byzantium a brilliant addition to a border. I too dislike Spiraea and begonias and hanging baskets, I also dislike those topiary plants which have been clipped to resemble standard poodles! What is that about. As for droopy drawers well the name alone says it all. 🙂 Dorris.

    • Chloris says:

      I love Gladiolus Byzantium too. It is gorgeous and lights up the garden in early summer. And topiary poodles- yuck! I think you and I have a similar taste in plants Dorris.

  22. jenhumm116 says:

    Great post Chloris – and I always love it when you treat me to a bit of history.
    And yes, think we have similar taste as I would largely agree with your list. However, feeling a little stung by your dislike of verbascums – I had been feeling quite proud of my Chaixiii Albums, grown from seed 😉

    • Chloris says:

      Jenny, don’ t feel stung, I love Verbascum chaixii. It is the great big Verbascum olympicum I dislike with leaves like mildewed dish clothes.

  23. Cathy says:

    Oh I so enjoyed reading this post, Chloris and all the comments – so let’s just like what we like, and dislike what we dislike, without fear of ridicule (I still recall when I was soundly derided for not liking the mahona that lives – sort of- in the corner of the garden). As you said yourself our own tastes change over the years anyway – so who knows what we will be liking tomorrow 😉

    • Chloris says:

      Thanks Cathy. Of course we all have our personal plant preferences and what a good thing too. I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on this topic. I love it when we can have a discussion with lots of different points of view.
      I forgot to mentioned the awful weedy Mahonia which seeds all over the garden and is fiendishly difficult to dig up. I hate that too.

      • Cathy says:

        I hid behind the excuse of not being at home to keep my personal dislikes to myself (other than the mahonia!) 😉

  24. bittster says:

    Heh heh, I love this post, I wish it were longer… and I love going through the comments and responses!
    I’m a complete snob in my own garden, but can admire even the most tasteless planting if it’s well cared for. I suspect you might cringe a bit in my garden with my love of velvety verbascums and prickly thistles, and I think I love orange a little more each year.
    Rudbeckias are as common as dandelions in my beds, and although you don’t mention them, I can’t imagine Jenny approving. As we speak I bet there are breeders hard at work developing a rudbeckia for baskets….
    Daylilies…. not in my garden, but overgrown cannas and obscene dahlias, YES!

    • Chloris says:

      I don’ t mean prickly, thistly things, I mean beasts like Pyracantha that attack you viciously whenever you walk past. I used to hate orange but I love it now. ( But not enough to paint my chairs orange)
      I like dahlias now too. It is curious how the longer you garden the more your taste changes.

  25. Robbie says:

    lol…I have a pinky winky…+ I have to agree, that is the strangest name I have ever heard of! I like the native plants, but I have to admit I have my own I dislike, those that do not feed the pollinators-so I am a snob, too…we are all to a certain extent. You are right it is a personal preference like the color of our kitchen, some like yellow, blue or other colors + some of us go for the earth colors…great post!

    • Chloris says:

      You have Pinky winky? I have seen photos and I must admit it is pretty but what a silly name.
      The trouble with over hybridised doubles is that they are no good whatsoever for pollinaters so from a practical point of view as well as an aesthetic one they are to be avoided. But some people like them and as you say we all have different tastes. And a good thing too or it would be a boring world.

      • Robbie says:

        I purchased it many years ago, and at that time I was not thinking about pollinators, or I would of not purchased it…but it has grown on me:-)

  26. What a great post Chloris, you and I seem to have a lot of the same plants on our hate list, though I have come to rather enjoy gladioli. I’ve got rid of the hypericum I inherited, which I feel I should like but don’t. Actually I think it is varieg foliage I hate even more than begonias, which I find easy to avoid. There are exceptions, a lot of pittosporums, for instance, but one of those does another thing I really dislike. Plants that have dramatically different coloured foliage at the same time. So whereas I love the deep purple of Tom Thumb, I hate the way they new growth starts out bright green. So you end up with a dark purple plant with a haze of green around it. Yuck!

    PS I bought a couple of daylilies on the spur of the moment. Big mistake. I think I’d like the more subtle single coloured ones, but these. No thank you…

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Janet it looks as though you and I have similar tastes in plants. I was hoping to get a bit of a discussion going. I hope I haven’ t offended anybody, it was only meant in a spirit of fun.

  27. It is too easy to be swayed by fashion and current trends. But at the end of the day, taste is a very personal thing. You need to decide for yourself, what you like or don’t like. I once included a Hypericum in a medicinal herb bed, even though I didn’t like it. I am ashamed to admit I was sort of pleased when it failed. I do try to keep an open mind! After all, this “hydrangea hater”, like you, has fallen in love with “Annabelle” – oh, and H. quercifolia!

    • Chloris says:

      Taste is a very personal thing and I would love to know what makes us love some plants and hate others. I don’ t know why I don’ t like Hypericums. I do try to keep an open mind.
      Oh yes, Hydrangea quercifolia! I grow it in a pot and I love it.

  28. Anna says:

    A most enjoyable and humorous post Chloris. As in all matters my philosophy is ‘vive la difference’. I’m more than happy to grow leycesteria formosa but appreciate that other folk may not regard it as fondly 🙂 I’m certainly with you on red hot poker ‘Atlanta’ which must be my most detested plant!

  29. Chloris says:

    Thank you Anna. Atlanta is horrible isn’ t it? My dislike used to encompass all pokers until I started to really look at some of the more recent hybrids. Some of them are really lovely.

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  31. hoehoegrow says:

    Lovely, thought provoking post ! I would add chrysanthemums to the list, if I may, still out of favour after being a stalwart of cottage gardens and allotments for decades. Whereas the dahlia has been welcomed back into the fold, the poor old chrysanthemum remains outside in the cold !

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jane. I think the Chrysanthemum is due for a comeback. I bet it will soon be the ‘in’ plant. To be honest I never grew chrysanthemums until a couple of years ago when I started to reassess it. I have several now and I love them.

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  33. Julie says:

    I missed this post first time around and have just read it via Jason’s post today, love it, I can’t think of another area where people feel so able to express themselves honestly and not consider what they say could offend the recipient. I do not like and feel physically repulsed by highly bred multi coloured tulips, I have not said that before and its quite liberating!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Julie. I am glad you felt that you could say that you don’ t like highly bred tulips. I love them but I am not taking it as a personal affront. We really shouldn’ t take it personally if someone doesn’ t like something we grow. We should be able to discuss it, rather than all saying: ‘ oh! How lovely!’ That’ s what blogging is about- discussing plants; not just expressing platitudes.

  34. Benjamin says:

    Great post! I had an older gardening friend who poo-poohed any bright orange or fluorescent yellow flowers…the blooms of garish youth, she called ’em. My opinion? Any flower I can get to bloom relatively easily and behave itself becomes a favorite 😉

    • Chloris says:

      I love that expression: ‘ the blooms of garish youth’ . Maybe she had a point and when we are very young we go for bright colours.
      But you are right, how can we not love something that does well for us? As long as it doesn’t do too well and become invasive. A garden full of well -grown, healthy, common plants looks so much better than rare plants which are sulking and flowering with reluctance.

  35. Debra says:

    I love hanging baskets — especially the gigantic ones on the west coast of Canada. The first time I saw one I was filled with joy. They look exuberant to me. Confession: thank you for spilling the truth about day lilies 😉 I don’t like them either — except for the old fashioned ones that have a nice fragrance and a clear yellow petal. I think the hybrids are pretty ugly.

  36. Chloris says:

    Hanging baskets was Jenny’ s particular dislike, not mine. My only objection to them is that they need far more watering and feeding and general cosseting than I am prepared to give them.
    It’ s also the names of Daylilies that I object to. Some of them are really gross

  37. I had no idea so many people in the gardening blogosphere despised daylilies! (Erm, ah, you may want to give my blog a pass every June). I have a few plants that I don’t care much for–red salvia, certain begonias, and Stella d’Oro daylilies (you have no idea how abused they are over here)–but I think what I dislike more than a particular plant is a plant used unimaginatively. If I saw red salvias used in an innovative design or dynamic combination, I would absolutely reconsider them. I don’t have much creative genius myself but I am a fine borrower of others’ good ideas, so if you happen to notice an out-of-the-ordinary treatment of an ordinary (that is to say, commonly used) plant, please let me know.

    I have always remembered and embraced the refreshingly liberating advice of writer Ann Lovejoy who once said, “Grow what you like, okay? Martha’s not coming over.” [That’s Martha Stewart…the tastemaker of upper-middle-class America, and a supercilious pain in the neck.]

    Most of my friends are not enthusiastic gardeners, so I never have people asking me for the names of this plant or that one. I agree that some names are absurd. If you are feeling masochistic, head over to Plant Delights Nursery (www.plantdelights.com) and under “Shop,” select “Plant Delights Creations and Discoveries.” Tony Avent is a true character and enjoys giving plants names that evoke the less genteel aspects of the American South. I think you might find, for example, Hostas ‘Get Nekkid’ or ‘Red Neck Heaven’ particularly winceworthy. Perhaps Phlox pilosa ‘Slim Jim’ (that’s a brand of beef jerky), Trillium lancifolium ‘Shotgun Wedding,’ or Amorphophallus bulbifer ‘Stemulation’ (oh, Tony. Really?)…

    Jenny? Won’t you come over and see my Gladiolus dalenii ‘Halloweenie’?

    I’ve tortured you enough (but believe me, there’s so much more), so I’ll cease and desist.
    PS: I love a metal container planted up with black foliage, magenta flowers, and lime-green accents.

  38. Chloris says:

    ‘ Grow what you like.’ That is the very best advice for a gardener. It doesn’t matter what other people think.
    I like to see what other people are growing, even if they are plants that I wouldn’t t grow myself.
    Personally I couldn’t t plant something called ‘ Kissy poo’ but each to his own.
    I shall look forward to your day lilies next year. Have they got silly names?

  39. Catherine says:

    Regarding different taste: My mother used to say, “Be glad not everyone likes the same things you do. You couldn’t afford it.”

    Regarding Tradescantia: At our previous house Tradescatia volunteered in the grass, in the gardens, anywhere and it was nice. So I planted it here in seemingly similar conditions. I didn’t like it at all; scraggly, begrudgingly flowered, sullen. For me to be happy with a plant, the plant has to be happy.

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