TIME TO BE FRANK THAT ALL IS NOT ALWAYS WELL IN THE GARDEN. A weeding session on Saturday prompted this meditation about what constitutes a bad plant. A bad plant is one that does not respect its neighbors by encroaching and runs rampant without invitation. It is a thug, invader, pest, and a bane to good riddance. The particular plant that brought this to mind is campanula persicifolia. While the white and blue flowers are charming, it seeds with abandon and travels where it is unwanted by dense, underground root runs; it is most difficult to pull them out roots and all, because I can never get out all the roots. A good plant on the other hand is one that spreads slowly or stays put where planted, gives its’ neighbors plenty of space and is easily divided or easy to pull like a weed when there are too many. This is of course, highly subjective and subject to local conditions and tastes! I unknowingly accepted a small piece of this plant from a friend who had received it from her neighbor and now it shows up everywhere and far from the original location.
I noticed that the first hosta is shooting up and there is oxalis oregana (wood sorrel) around it and for me, oxalis is a pernicious pest so, it too, became part this screed. The roots probably came along with a small native iris from Grandma T’s garden. It looks great in a large shady area under tall trees or rhododendrons, but I have a relatively small garden. Luckily it is largely confined to one area of the garden and every year I rip out as many of its’ roots as I can find as soon as the leaves start to appear; the fleshy roots can be up to eight inches deep. Another univited plant is a rampant alstromeria that came along with polygonatum hirtum (Solomon’s seal) from another friend’s garden. The Solomon’s Seal is stately and elegant with lovely white, late spring flowers is pretty well mannered in a shady dry spot with no supplemental irrigation, but it too can spread unchecked in more favorable conditions.
So what this all comes down to is be alert and if possible do a little homework before you take home that ‘have to have it’ or friendship plant. We all become enamored of some plant(s) that we just have to have, and on occasion experience a lapse in good judgment. Even if when we know better we bring it home anyway and plant it because we know that it will behave in my garden. Be vigilant and look for the unwanted hitch hiker when unpotting plants you receive from friends. If possible read about your plant and the conditions it likes, before planting! This is especially true with ground cover plants; there are lots of great ground covers, most are well behaved and spread slowly and are easy to control, but others, while quite attractive, are very invasive and need containment. Right plant, right location–easier said than done sometimes!
The first hosta to emerge is hosta ‘Lancifolia’, (also from Grandma T’s garden). I love the funnel shaped leaves as they push up skyward through the earth and slowly unfurl and lay outward. The leaves are a medium green, lightly ribbed and shiny. (It’s sharing a a somewhat isolated spot with oxalis)
Glorious on a warm, sunny afternoon is clematis armandii, with an abundance of fragrant flowers. It is evergreen and will grow fifteen-twenty feet in a season. We have two that run along the edge of our L-shaped covered porch, one planted at each end. They are severely pruned back every other year and require some frequent tidying since they run along the roof edge just under the gutters.
As the erythronium continue to bloom the dainty blue flowers of brunnera macrophylla ‘Hadspen Cream’ on the other side make a nice contrast to the bright yellow flowers.