I hate conifers
How odd that my last blog was all about extreme November temperatures and here we are battling against severe snow, frost and ice. I must have known, and am certainly glad all my tender plants are safely in the greenhouse. Anyway, I digress before I’ve even started, onto the main topic of the day…
I visited a small garden centre last weekend and spotted something that stopped me in my tracks and filled me with horror. Among all the lovely plants, sundries and other garden paraphernalia was a HUGE pink sign promoting National Conifer Week. Why did it stop me in my tracks? Well I had absolutely no idea such a ludicrous week occurred (after a bit of online searching I’ve found out that this year’s event was 2-10 October, so admittedly the sign is a little out of date). And why did the sign fill me with horror? Because I absolutely hate conifers with all my being. It’s a deep-rooted loathing that started 15 years ago when I worked at a plant nursery and was told to weed row after row of potted conifer. It took me three days to weed all of the pots, I developed a hugely irritating and painful rash up my arms and, unfortunately, conifers have never been in favour with me since. I’m sure there are plenty of gardeners who will defend them, and I reckon I’m likely to get a bit of grief from The HTA British Conifer Group, but is there any point in growing them? There are plenty of other evergreen trees and shrubs to provide structure and winter interest – why not plant a lovely viburnum that also has scented flowers?
My reaction to the pink sign, and my general hatred for conifers, got me thinking and I realised there’s actually quite a lot of things I intensely dislike about some British plants and gardens. Take statues of animals for example, I don’t see how they enhance a garden one bit. I specifically mention these because I pass a huge stone Great Dane in a neighbour’s front garden every time I leave my house and, while it raises a smile and my young daughter loves it, it makes a complete joke of the garden and detracts away from the roses that are actually very pretty in the summer. Not to mention it comes up to my armpits and looks quite menacing after a night at the pub and a few shandies. Perhaps that’s the point.
It’s not just conifers and animal statues that get my back up and, to make myself a few enemies, here is my top-ten list of everything I loathe about British gardens.
- Conifers. They’re all hideous and bring nothing to a garden.
- Statues of animals. Your garden is doomed if you buy one of these. Anyway what’s with this recent obsession with meercats? They’re the worst of the lot.
- Peach. I’m not talking about the fruit but the colour. Any plant that produces a flower that is peach (or salmon, call it what you like) should be banned.
- Ceramic outdoor clocks. Haven’t you got a watch?
- Gas patio heaters. They look ugly and are doing the environment no good at all.
- Topiary animals. Why have a squirrel when a classic ball, pyramid, lollipop or column would look much better?
- Coloured glazed pots. Only plain terracotta will do for me.
- Multi-coloured paving. Why can’t some people stick to one colour of paving slab?
- Heather. Perhaps it's because you so often see it with conifers.
- Pink daffodils. They’re just wrong. Daffodils should be yellow and only yellow.
Of course, it’s all about personal taste and preference, and I’m entitled to my opinion just as you are yours (waiting for comments in fear).
Until next time…
Kevin Smith is a garden writer, blogger and former Commissioning Editor of BBC Gardeners' World Magazine.