Mr. Martin also points to other drawbacks associated with heirloom or older plant varieties, including disease, lack of drought resistance and a tendency to droop after just a few days.
“A lot of people now are asking for the wave petunia,” he said. “It’s got a cascading head and is drought-resistant.”
Today’s gardeners, particularly those in the Greater Washington area, want blooms all season long, with plants that look heathy and maintain their form even after the season has passed. Commercially cultivated species such as native mallow have been redefined to work in a modern garden.
“People come in and want it all done in one weekend,” Mr. Martin said. “Gone are the days when people went to nurseries every weekend. People are buying based on what they are seeing blooming at the time.”
And they are not as interested in indigenous species as some would have you think.
“Talk about native plants is a relative term,” Mr. Martin said. “A lot of people consider them weeds. They want a better variety in terms of look.”
There are drawbacks associated with some of the newer varieties, though. The popular wave petunias, for example, have a limited color range and no scent. And if you try to save their seeds, you’re likely to end up with something that doesn’t even remotely resemble what you thought you planted.
Still, there are ways to enjoy the aesthetic of an old-fashioned garden with some of the comforts associated with a modern one.
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