gardening in indiana
Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

Having gardened in California since 1977, it has been a while that I’ve been away from gardens in the Midwest.

by John Bagnasco

During the July 4th week, I visited my son at his new home in Indianapolis and was quickly reminded of my Michigan origins. It was fun to be reminded about what gardeners in cool winter climates have to contend with. In the evenings, it was almost magical to sit on the patio and watch the fireflies light up the yard and see the bats go after the mosquitoes.

Of course, the first thing a visitor from CA notices is all the greenery. Deciduous trees, conifers and understory plants abound. The climate is hot and humid – just what most plants like that are not from Mediterranean areas. The composition of the green scene is quite different than what is seen in the Southwest. Maple trees and beeches are everywhere and complimented by an array of pines and spruces. Blue spruce are notable standouts. I’ve always been fascinated by paperbark maples and was pleasantly surprised to see a few of this uncommon tree. One of my wife’s favorite childhood trees was the weeping willow and they were quite noticeable around the lake.

Weeping cherries, flowering crabapples, hawthorns, redbuds and flowering pears had all bloomed in the Spring, but rose-of-sharons were at their peak. My son even had a sweetbay magnolia in full bloom. Hydrangeas provided the majority of the color in the summer landscapes along with petunias and dahlias. I wish that I could have seen the Spring lilacs, peonies and other Spring-flowering shrubs and bulbs.
I was a little surprised that the nurseries were not selling color starts or vegetable plants. Those were all sold and planted in the Spring and in full splendor by this time.

I did notice that the corn was “knee-high, by the fourth of July.” The lack of irrigation was causing browning of some of the lawns. The area was in the midst of a drought (it hadn’t rained in ten days!)

I noticed a different mindset of the residents. With noticeably distinct seasons, comes less flexibility. Each time period contains a set of tasks that must be accomplished before the next season arrives. In CA, the seasons flow together and the lack of urgency seems to cause a complacency for the gardener. Other climates are great to visit and Indiana dreamin’ is fine with me as long as I can wake up to garden in California.