I Can't Contain This Any Longer!
Austin C. Kennell, Afton, VA
One of the privileges of getting older is being able - or maybe willing is a better way to put it - to speak one's mind. So, in exercise of that dubious right, I proclaim an undying antipathy to containers. I hate containers! I detest containers! I abhor containers! I abominate containers! Now that I've made these calm, reasoned statements, I guess I've gone too far not to go further.
After years of planting field-grown plants - and then years of planting container-grown plants - and years trying to grow both, I plain just don't like container-grown plants (or maybe it's just that container-grown plants just don't like me).
Although honesty forces me to admit that I don't keep any records to support my claims, I know I have rarely ever lost any field-grown plants for any reason, but my garden cemetery is littered with the corpses of container-grown plants.
Now before the obvious question is raised, I hasten to state I believe I know how to prepare and handle container-grown plants for maximum growing success. As a matter of fact, I spend so much time and effort trying to plant container-grown plants properly that perhaps they get tired of waiting and commit suicide.
I understand the very cogent business reasons for container growing. After all, no one wants to go in the hole! I also realize the proliferating use of containers has probably increased the variety and quantity of plants available to gardeners. I guess they're like taxes - I understand the necessity. But I sure don't have to like them!
So, to nurseries still growing field-grown plants, please hang in there. There are some of us around who like the old natural way better. Whether there are many of us or not, I don't know. But, please, whatever you do, don't let your nursery go to pot. Just dig in and do it your way.
And to container-growing nurseries, I sincerely hope the economies in propagating and shipping outweigh the disadvantages to the amateur gardeners. But for the same business reasons that dictate the use of containers, please do a good job of educating the ultimate buyer how to transplant container-grown plants for optimum growing success. It's really a crime to saddle rhododendrons or any other plants with an undeserved reputation for being difficult to grow when they're only doing what they're trained to do.
I don't know. I guess container growing is progress. Maybe so. But as far as I am concerned, it's like test-tube babies. Whatever else it may be, it sure ain't better!