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Old 06-12-2010, 04:09 PM
 
Location: In the AC
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Southerners value plants that might not meet other's standard of showy all year round.

Azalas are a perfect example. They are amazing when they bloom for a few weeks a year. But, we also love them during the other 50 weeks for their beautiful glossy green foliage.

We also love more natural settings such as a field with a lone live oak, daylillies growing rampant in the ditches, and the wide spaces of the coastal swamps and marshes. Gardening is not limited to cramming in as many annuals as possible in front of your house.
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Old 06-12-2010, 05:07 PM
 
Location: Knoxville, TN
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Instead of pining for what you didn't have -- geraniums -- you should have looked for what you could grow. Those don't do well with hot Southern nights. They prefer the cooler nights you get in Northern States along with full sun during the day. I thought about buying some when I was in Lowe's the other day, but knew from experience they would be dead in July. The full sun is too hot for them here. That's true of a lot of things. I would love to grow Sweet Peas. That's not going to happen. Too hot. Lettuce? Same thing.
There are many plants that flourish in the South that you probably never heard of. Sweet shrub is one.
Southerners love flowers and gardening. And preserve a lot of the heirloom flowers that may not be as showy as the new fancy hybrids but have a beauty and charm of their own.
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Old 06-12-2010, 07:37 PM
 
Location: Two Rivers, Wisconsin
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Interesting reading all this, and rather amusing! I've visited many places, used to have a friend in Atlanta I went there a great deal and saw many cute yards, flowers, etc.!

One has to go with where you are, zone you are in and some plants just hate perpetual heat, or like where I am, too cool!

A very general statement about no love of gardens is way off base I'd say, as you can find someone who loves a form of gardening no matter where they live. I love going through cities and seeing pots of plants set out on balconies, no matter where I go I always notice plants and flowers.
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Old 06-12-2010, 11:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
Hello,

I am probably the most alien-to-gardening person that has ever posted on this forum - as the closest I have ever come to this hobby was to place some bought/received flowers in a vase. However, over the years I have developed a yearning for geraniums, most probably as a result of home sickness. Having grown up in Europe, the look of red geraniums at windows is like comfort food to me.

12 years ago I arrived in the US and settled in Atlanta. Throughout the years I noticed that very few flowers I had grown up with were present in the area - and clearly, no trace of geraniums.
Moreover, I noticed that the South, in general, does not seem to be big on carefully tended/designed gardens or yards. You can see some shrubs with exotic flowers thrown here and there but not much else. Suburbs are full of big, modern, brand new houses set in cookie cutter developments, but dry and garden-less. Few to none seem to be interested in having an actual garden around the house or flower beds at the windows, or hanging baskets or what have you...

Then, this year in January we were faced with a sudden and unexpected relocation to Massachusetts. We have been living in a suburb of Boston for 4 months now and one thing I can't get over is how I am finally re-discovering the look of European gardens and yards all over the place and how I am crazy about it!!

The flowers in pretty much everyone's yards are downright spectacular in the beginning of summer. And I finally found my beloved geraniums! They are everywhere here!! Like the idiot that I was, I thought - for a long time - that geraniums are simply not grown in the US. So last summer I brought 3 small cuttings with me from Europe (not that this was even legal) -which my husband managed to kill during the relocation process.

Now, the real estate/houses in and of themselves, taken separately, are downright depressing compared to the South: old, dumpy, crowded, most in severe need of some kind of renovation. I am having a hard time buying into New England's understanding of "patina" and "historical". "Historical" is certainly good. Un-renovated is not.
But that's a different story. .

HOWEVER, the personal interest that people seem to have for gardens and flower pots and beautiful landscaping around the house (no matter how dumpy the house) is literally making the houses look 100 times better than the picture perfect, brand new, cutting edge yet so dry Mc Mansions of the South. Even the most modest houses here in Massachusetts have great character and look downright adorable - only because of the cute gardens and colorful flowers surrounding them!! The other day, I saw a Victorian house painted in candy colors, including pink - and incredible flower beds all over it ...that made me want to put my teeth in it and eat it up! Just gorgeous.

So my question is: why is it that the South does not seem to have the same interest/love for little gardens and flower pots around the house as Northerners do? Is it that plants in that zone are harder to take care of so most people just don't bother? Is it the heat? Aren't there some adequate plants that could fill Southerners' gardens? Why is it that most of them can't be bothered? Is it cultural - perhaps less interest in natural beauty and more in showing off relatively opulent, large housing?

Also, can geraniums be grown in the South?

We are in Massachussets for now but for family-related reasons, we might return to the South in a couple of years if the opportunity arises. (After all, who in the world can afford this state anyway? ...)

If we do, I know for sure I will miss the love of gardens-with-character that New Englanders seem to have.

Problem: You are comparing new homes in Atlanta suburbs to older, historic homes in the Northeast!

You would have seen differently if you compared southern historic homes to those northeast homes.

I love European style gardens but I don't think they have to be everywhere, although you can find them in the South.

Have you been to New Orleans, LA? Charleston, SC? Savannah, GA? St. Augustine, FL? To name just a few.

Someone already posted this but...pick up a copy of Southern Living sometime.

I'm saddened that you missed it all.
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:28 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
That too makes sense. I did visit Savannah once, long time ago and I remember thinking it was really beautiful.

Speaking of the Southern rich though - they clearly must have their gardens in the rear and nothing in the front, because I remember driving through areas of Buckhead and Sandy Springs (Atlanta) and being downright overwhelmed by the opulence of the real estate. It was gasp after gasp after gasp. Even the richest people in Massachusetts could not even begin to think of that level of opulence. Yet the areas still felt lonely, dry and way too quiet for my taste because I saw no trace of human outside, nor any flowers.
Just "in your face" quiet palaces.

Oh, I missed this before, so you have been to Savannah.

I guess I don't understand your concern or your point.
If you move back to the South you can design your garden anyway you want. We did...even to the point of designing the vegetable garden too!

If you want to find areas with charming, historic homes with gardens, you'll have to get off the beaten path and look in the smaller old towns (like where I am), or go to one of the aforementioned "cities".
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Old 06-13-2010, 01:17 AM
 
1,677 posts, read 1,483,237 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knoxgarden View Post
Too hot. Lettuce? Same thing.
Knoxville is too hot for lettuce? I had no idea and I'm shocked because I'm farther south than you, in SC, and we grow several varieties of lettuce all summer long.
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Old 06-13-2010, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
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I grew lettuce in Atlanta.....
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Old 06-13-2010, 11:19 AM
Status: "Practice random acts of kindness and goodwill." (set 5 days ago)
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
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I think that the original poster was genuinely vexed and it is indeed difficult for a European to understand and take in the true vastness of America - and indeed the diversity that exists within one state. This has been my experience with many well educated Europeans.

That said I am a Northerner as you can see, who spent her early years reading Southern novels that chronicled the gardening culture of the south.

Atlanta has a lot of NcMansions and sprawl and it is not representative of must of the south. A lot of it has a generic big box feel. I am sure that there are lovely older neighborhoods tucked away with some magnificent southern gardens there - but the visitor does not see this Atlanta.
We have McMansions here in NY too where people attempt to cultivate tropical plants. Go figure...
It's a new rich thing - a bad taste thing - not a Southern or Northern thing
i still have huge respect for the generations of Southern Lady gardeners!
A big broad brimmed floppy hat off to y'all!
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Knoxville, TN
2,172 posts, read 6,997,023 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scarlet_ohara View Post
Knoxville is too hot for lettuce? I had no idea and I'm shocked because I'm farther south than you, in SC, and we grow several varieties of lettuce all summer long.
The farmers that supply the farmers' markets where I get my veggies say it is. Says it bolts. It might be OK in gardens if you get certain types. I'm in a condo and do container gardens.
I love fresh lettuce and snatch it up in Spring and Fall when the farmers are selling it plucked right out of the ground with the root and dirt still on it.
We're in an odd climate. South Carolina grows much tastier melons than I've gotten in Tennessee. But we've got wonderful tomatoes, strawberries, blackberries.
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Silver Springs, FL
23,417 posts, read 32,659,855 times
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One can grow lettuce anywhere in the South, it just depends on what your planting zone advises as to time of year.
I can grow 2 crops a year, one in the early spring, and another in the late fall.
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