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Key West Musings

I just got back from a mini-vacation that got me thinking about "common" plants . . . love' em or hate 'em?

We went to Key West, Fla., over the long weekend to attend my cousin's wedding. We (my family plus my parents and sister) flew to Miami then rented a minivan and drove the rest of the way down the keys. Between the drive and our time on the island, I got a good eyeful of the local plant life, most of which I couldn't name but some of which I knew as houseplants back home in New England.

I found something appealing about each plant I saw . . . then I started to notice I was seeing the same handful of plants over and over again. Much like at home, there seemed to be a few "go-to" plants that had been plunked in every yard, median, storefront and hotel. It still all looked magical to me, but I imagine the "Conches," as the locals call themselves, get sick of seeing hibiscus, porterweed, orange geiger trees and so on everywhere they look.

It made me wonder, were the Conches to visit my neighborhood, would they be thrilled with the predominance of yews, rhododendrons and lilacs? Staying at the local Hampton Inn, would they stoop to examine more closely the 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies and purple salvia? I doubt it . . . but I must have looked pretty crazy to them, craning my neck for an upward view of the "flamboyant trees" (Delonix regia) that were absolutely everywhere.

On the flight home, I thought my little break from our neck of the woods would make my neighborhood plant life look more appealing, seeing it with "fresh eyes." Well, I was happy to be home but a yew is still a yew. And sadly, I now feel less than happy with the container combos I had created before we left! More about that next week.

The bottom line for me is -- common plants, I love 'em and I hate 'em. They are tiresome to look at. But on the "love" hand, they are there because they grow. Since not everyone is into gardening and seeking out the "different" for their yards, and since most of us have limited time and resources, the go-to plants serve a good purpose. What would our neighborhoods, or even sections of our own yards, look like without them? So here's to yews!