I’m a total garden geek, so you know I love to try new plants. It’s fun to discover newly introduced varieties that might be the next gold standards and my listeners and readers enjoy hearing about the latest introductions as well. So when a box of sample plants arrives on my doorstep my reaction is usually jubilation. Until today.
“New daylily plants!” I thought when the box arrived. But when I opened the package and read the literature that was enclosed, my pleasure turned to incredulity. My shipment of new plants were included with a brochure announcing “Tea Party Daylilies” that proclaimed that this brand is “For American Patriots.” The plants pictured have names such as Tea Party Passion and Tea Party Power leading me to wonder if I’d stumbled out of the garden and into a Saturday Night Live skit.
“Did someone really think that this is a good way to market plants?” I asked my husband.
Maybe they figure that a portion of those who agree with that segment of the American right will rush to buy these perennials. Possible, although as the brochure states they are honoring “real American values in your garden” such as “Personal Freedom” and “Free Enterprise”…so why wouldn’t those who resonate with this approach propagate the hell out of these plants and spread them to friends and neighbors freely? And don’t they know that people like myself will go out of their way to distance themselves from these daylilies and the brand? Perhaps they subscribe to the “even bad publicity is good publicity” school of marketing. I”m thinking that this is a 20th century approach that doesn’t have as much traction in our 21st century, instant communications world.
Beyond being appalled that a group of neutral plants are being saddled with a philosophy that I find abhorrent, I have to ask myself if this is good for horticulture. In times when people are bonding more with their smart phones than with the natural world in their own backyards, don’t we plant people hear a call to gather folks together and lead them back into the garden?
I believe that the politicizing of plants isn’t a good way to attract individuals to the joys of horticulture. It’s a gimmick that further polarizes our country, separating one person from another and distancing people further from the joys of the natural world.
American Daylilies and Perennials, you make Stella de Oro daylilies look good to me, and that’s saying a lot.
**POST UPDATE** After a few days of comments and reflections, I’ve come to the conclusion that this brand of plants could actually be good for horticulture. The people who, like myself, are appalled talk about these daylilies calling the attention of those who are Tea Party sympathetic to the plants. Several people who have seen this post and my link on Facebook and Twitter are now clamoring for these daylilies. I’m sighing all the way, but if it’s good for the promotion of gardening I guess it’s OK with me.