Gardening is a Gamble
When you watch a gardening programme have you ever considered that what the presenter is giving out as fact is just an opinion. The best that can be said is that their advice usually works, particularly in the south of England.
The real question is: 'Are you a gambler?'
You can play safe and plant native species in your garden and you will get lots of wins, with a bonus that the birds, insects etc. will be very happy.
Or you can gamble on exotic species from all over the world, and you will have a more interesting garden but have to accept a few losses.
The other gamble is 'new varieties' : these are the most risky of all and often the most expensive. They have been bred and grown for a few years in ideal conditions. Just long enough to get a stock up for launch and the nations gardeners do the long term testing.
There is another option. You can have a kitchen garden and with a bit of luck you will grow fat and happy. Hopefully the exercise of working the garden will balance your weight with the loads of food that you produce.
So how can you tell where a plant originates? Well I suppose that the internet is the place to start, or a good gardening book. Take the fashion for tree palms a few years ago. This was never going to work, just because a few survive on the south coast does not mean that they have a chance in the middle of 'Sunny Cheshire'. As a rule of thumb if you check out the origins of species and they come from a colder country than here they will probably do OK, but if they come from a warmer place they will probably just sit and shiver and be very unhappy. You will have to work harder to give them what they need and be prepared for disappointment.
So what do you do? Well I like to back mostly winners, but have a few gambles. I have had three attempts to grow Rhododendron Yakushimanum , the present one seems to have taken, but who knows? It is from Japan so it should take. The pleasure in nurturing a 'tricky' plant is wonderful.