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thoughts on the "New American Garden" (Not!)

Sean A. O'Hara saouc at uccmvsa.ucop.edu
Fri Jun 6 14:34:07 EST 1997

In Article Your thoughts on the "New American Garden",
UUCT <uuct at aol.com> wrote:
> Does anyone have working definitions or thoughts on the "new American
> garden," a concept I have been reading about the past few years,
> especially related to the use of native plants. Are others encountering
> the term? Does it seem useful? Let me know.

At best, this term would certainly be ambiguous.  As far as I can
tell, this phrase is used to refer to changes being observed in gardens
of the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard.  Here is California, as in the
Southeast and Southwest, the climate has long been the inpiration for
more unusual plant selection (though it still doesn't stop gardeners
from trying to emulate gardens from colder climates).

Since America is such a geographically diverse area, it would seem 
silly (and inappropriate) to try and define an 'American' style of
gardening (unless of course, as is often the case, you just ignore
significant parts of the country).  'New' is also somewhat of a
misnomer - much of what is now being touted under this term has been
around for some time, especially out here in the west.

Personally, I am very regional in my approach to gardening.  After
being on the Internet for many years, involving myself in discussions
on a variety of topics, I became tired to trying to figure out if
a person was from New Hampshire or Georgia or New Mexico.  Since our
local climate is so different from other parts of 'America', I chose to
focus myself on parts of the world that were similar to my own
Mediterranean climate.  Now I talk with other gardeners in Portugal,
Italy, South Africa, Western Australia, Israel and other regions which
share my summer dry, mild wet winter climate.  And our common 'style'
of gardening has more to do with that climate than with being under
any sort of national flag.  And since our respective 'native' plants
are so well adapted to these conditions, we find that we often use
the same plants, though they are called 'native' and 'exotic' 
depending upon where they are being grown!  ;-)
 Sean A. O'Hara                     sean.ohara at ucop.edu
 710 Jean Street                    http://www.dla.ucop.edu/~sao
 Oakland, California  94610-1459    h o r t u l u s   a p t u s
 (510) 987-0577                     'a garden suited to its purpose'
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 Ask me about the worldwide Mediterannean gardening discussion group

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