Trendscoffer (Part I)

It’s autumn, and everything is “pumpkin spice.” Even the tire shop jokingly advertised “pumpkin spice rubber” on their marquee.

It’s not that I have anything against pumpkin spice anything, but if I burn a lilac-scented candle in November, I don’t care if I’m laughed at for being behind the times.

In our house and garden, trends are never made and seldom followed. Part of that is the lack of financial wherewithal to purchase those beautiful Vanilla Strawberry hydrangeas, but the biggest factor in play here is our inherent lack of coolness.

Yes, we have become old fuddy-duddies. Our kitchen walls sport old-lady style floral wallpaper and our garden lacks the latest and greatest hydrangeas. Instead, we grow old-time flowers such as peonies, zinnias, and even some antique roses.

One notable exception was the lovely “Echibeckia” that I purchased this spring. It’s a new cross between Echinacea and Rudbeckia. The more familiar names for the “plant parents” are coneflowers and black-eyed Susans. I really love both, and this new cross promised to be the best of both plants…and it would be cool to have something new for a change!

This spring I found this new introduction at a reasonable price at my favorite greenhouse. I could comfortably “gamble” the equivalent price of a “trendy” coffee on a plant I love, unlike the $60 Itoh peony that I passed up earlier that day.

It was probably a bad bet. This stunning orange and red flowering perennial had a glorious summer, but it looks as dead as a doornail now. I guess I’ll go back to my traditional cheapskate habit of swapping plants with friends.

Well, I tried a “fad flower,” but it didn’t fit, this time. I’m reminded of the centuries-old rhyme about new innovations:

“Be not the first by whom the new is tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”
~ Alexander Pope

While Mr. Pope was talking to writers, it is good advice not only for gardeners but in general. I could have avoided the heartbreak of losing the plant by waiting until other people had tried it and warned me of its fragile temperament.

Within our church walls, it seems that the new is valued far more than the older, tried and true methods and ideas.

We often become so eager to be up-to-date and — as we like to misuse the word — “relevant” that we cast aside everything that we have always done. Why is the term “traditional” seen in such a negative light?

The apostle Paul didn’t have a problem with traditions, and nobody can say he wasn’t “relevant!”

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Corinthians 2:15, NKJV).

Is it possible that those very things that are considered traditional can actually be the most relevant to our prospective or young Christians?

Of course, not all traditions are to be blindly followed. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees about that.

“He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition’” (Mark 7:9).

There it is, then. The “commandment of God” trumps tradition. It is what gives rise to tradition.

There is nothing wrong with taking the best of the newest trends and adding them to the traditional in ways that fit and function. A newer “orienpet” lily bloomed this year in the bed that keeps growing zinnias over and over and over again every year.

The next column will focus on some older favorites.

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