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Underappreciated/Unfairly Maligned

I don’t always agree with “the experts.” Michael Dirr is a famous expert. His book Manual of Woody Plants has been the main textbook for courses on the subject. Here’s what Michael Dirr says about one of my favorite shrubs: “Old favorite for sweetly-scented flowers; does not have much to recommend it for the modern landscape” “All Philadelphus types require about the same care – none. They are vigorous, easy to grow plants but are strictly of single season quality. In flower they are attractive to some but the rest of the year (about 50 weeks) are real eyesores. My garden space and labor are too valuable to waste on shrubs which only return a small interest. Consider these factors before extensively planting shrubs of this type.”

Well, he does admit in the introduction to the book that he is opinionated. With no apologies. I respect that. But I still think he’s a plant snob. I would grow mockorange for its perfume alone, even if it only flowered for one day! It fills the hollow where I live with a heavenly and unique scent. If only Estee Lauder could pick up on it! And so what if it’s only a green bush the rest of the year? What about privet? Taxus? Juniper? Oh yeah, you can hack them into garish topiaries, I forgot. My mockorange is a remnant of a very old landscape, dating to a time before plant snobs were so prevalent. My next wrongly snubbed favorite will bloom tomorrow or the next day.

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