I hate being a gardening know-it-all by Elizabeth Licata

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Posted on: April 26, 2017

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These tulips on the right bloomed early because they are the Praestans Shogun species, not because I fertilized them a lot.

And the funny thing is that I’m really not. I’m not a master gardener, a CNLP, or any kind of horticultural professional. I’m just a writer/editor who loves to garden, geek out on gardening books, and keep up with new ways of thinking about traditional garden practice. And, yes, I like to use botanical names. They make sense to me because, with exceptions, a plant may have five different (and often contradictory) common names but it generally has just one botanical name.

This is not the culture for many longtime gardeners. The use of botanical names is considered snobby, even laughable (and makes me a know-it-all). The fact that there are many classes of tulips, which bloom at different times, including species tulips, which are more apt to perennialize, is unimportant (and makes me a know-it-all). Tilling to clear ground and get rid of weeds is still considered a good strategy. Leaf blowers and power mowers are omnipresent; lawns are fertilized and weed-b-goned. Some of the old schoolers still “lift” bulbs for whatever reason people used to do that.

None of this is a big deal (except the blowers and the lawn stuff). I’m glad that people love to garden, however they go about it. But there’s a disconnect when I talk to fellow gardeners who think they’ve already learned all they need to know about gardening. Because isn’t learning ongoing with almost any activity, especially gardening, which is so intertwined with scientific advancements? I think so, but I see an attitude in the world of gardening that clings stubbornly to outmoded (and ineffective) practices and passed-down knowledge that may or may not have any scientific provenance. I know people are still throwing down random egg shells, Epsom salts, and coffee grounds, and that they will tell all their gardener friends to do the same. Not that it will do any harm, but still. I’m heartened by any effort to increase the advancement of science-based knowledge in the gardening world, so hurray for Susan and Linda Chalker Scott for promoting the pro-science movement. Long may it thrive.

I hate being a gardening know-it-all originally appeared on Garden Rant on April 25, 2017.

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