Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An easy resolution; don't do what I did.....

Resolutions are like chocolates; they’re gone before you know it. Somehow you start off full of good intentions but between lack of willpower, ‘senior moments’ and poor judgment they just disappear.


Sweet woodruff  carpeting the ground under a doublefile Viburnum

So rather than give you a list of my New Years resolutions, I’m going to share with you some of my ‘things I should never have planted’ disasters, with the idea that you can at least pat yourself on the back that you won’t make the same blunders that I did.

Sweet woodruff (Galium odorata).  Ah yes, the sweet fragrance wafting from those delicate white flowers fills the air in spring, lifting the spirits with their promise of warmer days ahead. Unfortunately this unassuming groundcover is also on a mission to take over the world. It spreads rapidly by underground stems and before you know it is mingling where it shouldn’t. I had to pull it out by the bucketful every year………and then move house.
The not-so-sweet violet

Sweet violet (Viola odorata). Yes I succumbed to fragrance once again although I’ll blame my neighbor for this one. You see in my native England, these little beauties aren’t so much of a problem (there again nor is ivy), so I chose to ignore the warning signs. My neighbor saw me admiring the clumps of delicate violas in her garden and generously dug up a clump for me. And so they ‘jumped the fence’ into my garden where they found a new home at the edge of my pond – and stream – and path – and patio. You get the drift.

Kenilworth ivy is best edging containers
Kenilworth ivy (Cymbalaria muralis). Another pretty little groundcover that I grew from seed. You know, you would think that the very name groundcover would alert me to the fact that it will cover the ground wouldn’t you? Well cover it did, regardless of whether that ground was lawn or garden border. Once again we moved house. Actually this time we moved country.

Jupiter's beard is pretty but self seeds everywhere
Jupiter’s beard, syn. Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber) is a common roadside perennial in England, brightening the highways with fluffy rosy-red flowers all summer. The fact that it grows in such inhospitable conditions says a lot about how ‘robust’ it is. Some would say this plant is more vigorous than truly invasive and I would probably agree. However it is more vigorous than I am when it comes to weeding out the many unwanted offspring.

I know from several emails I have received that I am not alone in my sins. Autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is a vine which easily escapes to swallow anything in its path, Ladybells (Adenophora confusa) resembles Campanulas in its appearance but mint in its tenacity, lily of the valley (Convallaria) forms such a dense mat of roots that nothing else can be planted (a serious problem for plant junkies) and Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria) which makes a wonderful cut flower – for the entire neighborhood, have all been mentioned as thugs.

Now I must point out that I am not against plants which self seed or spread, providing I can edit them without assistance from a bulldozer. Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis) is an example that here in WA usually self seeds becoming a fairly reliable perennial. Seedlings are easy to yank out however so I don’t mind them, although I appreciate that in other parts of the country they are considered invasive. The point is I ought to read the label and heed the advice of other local gardeners before I am seduced. There again if they’re cute, colorful and/or fragrant I may need to find myself some chocolate as a distraction.

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