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Old 06-04-2010, 11:12 PM
 
4,043 posts, read 6,422,113 times
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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.
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:25 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,499 posts, read 45,511,610 times
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I can't believe this post. Are you serious. Atlanta is not representative of the South. I just left there after 30 years and was a founding member of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Did you bother to even go there?

Obviously you were not looking in the right places. Yes there are millions of "I've got mine- I"m richer than you " houses in Atlanta but these people are too busy going to fund raisers, fighting ther ungodly traffic, and trying to impress their neighbors with elaborate catered parties and $2,000 hand bags to even think about getting their hands dirty.

I'm from the South and my love of gardening was born and bred by true southerners who placed gardening right up there with eating as their main past time. They had to garden for food and there in a few flowers for fun.

There are so many garden clubs in the south you couldn't even number them. Most of us however are happy to keep our favorite past time in the backyard and not showy in the front.,

Well I'm getting really angry at your post. Are you just trying to flame us. And to suggest there are not any geraniums in the South makes me howl. It is possibly the most overused plant there is. Did you ever go to a nursery? They practically give them away.

The heat here allows us to have a much longer growing season than the north. We have things in bloom in our yards from Jan( daffodils) to the first frost sometime in November.


Again you were not even looking. If you judge the south by the mcmansions you saw in Atlanta than you have not experienced the true South. A truly serious loss for you. Enjoy your snow and ice. I'lll be in the garden.
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:34 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
6,778 posts, read 12,144,568 times
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Hey now, I have $2000 handbags and I get my hands dirty!

Anyways, I don't know what you're talking about OP. I live in the South also (Charlotte) and I don't see this phenomenon you're talking about. at all.

Oh. I have a geranium on my back patio. Have you ever even looked for them at Lowes, Home Depot, etc? I've never been to a garden center that didn't carry them.
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:52 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,499 posts, read 45,511,610 times
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Every Mother's Day weekend in Atlanta there is a wonderful garden tour. My husband took me every year from the first one. Did you ever attend one of those? They are very well publicized.

And by the way....what kind of garden did you have???????????
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Old 06-05-2010, 07:06 AM
 
8,648 posts, read 15,628,188 times
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I think Texas is part of the south and I also think the OP needs to open their eyes....

But, Lots of the Southerns grow Vegie gardens instead of flowers tho...They would rather eat the fruits of their labor than smell it...

And my wife spends to much on new flower plants.......I need to have a talk with her about that...
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Old 06-05-2010, 07:11 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
6,778 posts, read 12,144,568 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Houston3 View Post
I think Texas is part of the south and I also think the OP needs to open their eyes....
Yes, and yes.
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Old 06-05-2010, 07:26 AM
 
3,651 posts, read 8,441,859 times
Reputation: 2766
Quote:
Originally Posted by no kudzu View Post
I can't believe this post. Are you serious. Atlanta is not representative of the South.
No argument there.

Quote:
I just left there after 30 years and was a founding member of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
That's great, but irrelevant. This person wasn't talking about a botanical garden or you specifically, but gardening in the South generally.

Quote:
Well I'm getting really angry at your post. Are you just trying to flame us.
That was clearly not the intent. This person drew a conclusion based on their observations and stated it reasonably. Excuse them for having an opinion you disagree with or don't like.

Quote:
And to suggest there are not any geraniums in the South makes me howl. It is possibly the most overused plant there is. Did you ever go to a nursery? They practically give them away.
I can't speak for ATL, but regarding VA and the Carolinas this is simply not true. Yes they do have them around down here, but I think they more common up North. I don't see them all that much around homes here, and I've been around many. Kind of "average."

Quote:
The heat here allows us to have a much longer growing season than the north. We have things in bloom in our yards from Jan( daffodils) to the first frost sometime in November.
The growing season is longer, but you can just as easily grow daffodils in the North...and generally, yards in the South don't have much blooming in January.

Quote:
Again you were not even looking. If you judge the south by the mcmansions you saw in Atlanta than you have not experienced the true South.
No argument there either.


PS to the OP: window boxes are more common in traditionally "Colonial" areas of the Northeast like Boston, but not all over the North...and much more common in Europe generally.
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:45 AM
 
18,766 posts, read 56,535,930 times
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Atlanta got fixated on Peach Trees early on. Remember that Atlanta was burned to the ground by Sherman and then re-populated with carpetbaggers from the north, so the original argument is dubious at best.

I lived in New England for thirty years. Winter is so dark and gray that without some green and honoring of plant life, most folks would go nuts, although those living just to the south, in the canyons of New York, seem to make do with parks.

Some of the better gardens in the country are in the south. Pick up a copy of Southern Living sometime, or take a tour or the antebellum homes. In the rural areas of the south, you may find that the relationship with plants is a lot more pragmatic. I've met numerous folks who grew up picking cotton and tobacco by hand as children, and for them working the soil would be like a plumber taking a vacation by cleaning fancy sewer pipes.

Ultimately, I think the generalization looked at a narrow view and tried to expand too far with it. Southerners know about such things and have generally moved on.
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Rhode Island
7,209 posts, read 11,630,979 times
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I think Syracusa's post shows how easy it is for Europeans to make generalizations about the USA from having seen or lived in just a few places. Often, they don't seem to realize how vastly different our regions can be.

Atlanta is a huge city with many many neighborhoods. Judging it by its newer suburbs would be very misleading. Just as judging New England by its older homes and neighborhoods is misleading. We do have some brand new houses here and new subdivisions as well (!).

As far as gardening goes, I think there are a few climatic factors that do come into play. Water, more abundant and cheaper up north than down south, encourages gardening. A shorter growing season encourages New Englanders to garden quickly and a lot! Cooler summers means one can work in a garden. When I lived in the south, the last thing I wanted to do was dig when it was 90 or 100. But, are there loads of lush flower gardens down south? Of course there are !!!!

Another thing I have noticed (mostly from watching HGTV- blush) is that Europeans will gut historic structures and have no problem modernizing them to an extreme. Is this because they have such a plethora of historic structures? Or that they love "ultra modern" so much?

I think many Americans tend to prize their older architecture and think it is a sin to destroy it by doing gut renovations such as in beautiful Savannah , Charleston, Providence, San Francisco, New Orleans etc. etc. They are much more apt to live with older kitchens and bathrooms, etc. than rip them out.

But again, I'm generalizing as well. Syracusa wants a happy medium of renovation and, if she's in a dumpy unrenovated suburb of Boston, she will have to pay more to get into an affluent section. That's for sure. Same goes for all the other cities I just mentioned. You need a couple million to live in a nicely renovated part of downtown Charleston, for example.

This equation has often been debated: great big new house cheap in a brand new subdivision of East Elbow or an older "charming" expensive place in Le Chic. Finding that happy medium can be difficult.
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:50 AM
 
Location: Middle Tennessee
204,547 posts, read 78,911,536 times
Reputation: 132943
Gardening has been a way of life for this southerner and has deep roots for generations that gardened.
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