Thursday, June 08, 2006

Another blow for plant diversity

A few years ago I bought three Hinoki cypress plants from Heronswood Nursery. Two of them died, but that's not the point (my fault, not enough sun). The point is that Heronswood--a small nursery, not even twenty years old, which grew, according to the Times, to "into a collection that would change the face of American gardening"--has just become the victim of its own success. It was bought up by Burpee & Co., which, just the other day, abruptly shut it down.

It is an increasingly familiar story, in this industry and others: a small specialty nursery known for unique plants is bought by a larger company hoping to take advantage of its cutting-edge appeal and to get new plants for mass marketing. What ensues is invariably a loss of diversity — as the new owner narrows the selection of plants, choosing mainly those it thinks will have mass appeal — and, often, a loss of the vision that made the nursery attractive to begin with.

I fear for Plant Delights.

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