Falling Out Of Love With Phormiums
Phormiums were all the rage a decade or so ago. The garden-stylistas have moved on, though they still seem to find room for a phormium here and there. I'm falling out of love with them for one reason, and one reason alone: severe mealybug infestations. I can deal with them reverting to the species, which they often seem to do, because the species are quite beautiful in themselves, but mealybugs must be attended to via systemic pesticide or regular, intensive blasts of alcohol-tainted water.
Why we loved them in the first place:
Still, I hope to always have a Phormium or two around. But the all-agog-ness, the I-want-I-want, is mostly over.
We gardeners are somewhat fickle, are we not? Familiarity breeds lament As gardeners go, there are the lifers, those devoted almost exclusively to a particular genus, who have grown members of that genus for decades. They end up writing the definitive genera book. Others of us reach for, or are carried along by the trend of the moment. Phormiums for a while, then the ornamental grass enthusiasm, the native plant trend, the succulents, nowadays it's mixing in edibles with ornamentals. (I've never seen so much black Kale in my life, does anyone actually eat that stuff?) The rest of us are somewhere between the genera-devoted and the stylista--a genus or two or three, maybe for a decade or so, and then another, with a touch of the popular rotating in and out.
Some plants never seem to make it as a full-fledged fashion. Climate limitations? Finicky?
Fashion in the garden. Yes, it's there. As the garden is the gardener, so gradually do plants fade away where once they lived in every yard on every street. Hollywood Junipers--used to see them everywhere. Now they hang on just where the original gardener still lives, or where no one cares at all what is green and growing outside.
Phormiums seem to be fading from view, the victims of Mealybugs, and fashion.
Nothing does that oiled bronze color like a Phormium:
Surely in a few decades there will be a lone surviving Phormium somewhere, and a young gardener designer will look at it and think: "Wow! I could use that!" And suddenly Phormiums will be back on every street, captivating the gardening heart again. At least until the mealybugs get them, or the ornamental native succulent grass craze commences.