Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Garden Nasties

Let's be clear up front - I have no horticultural training whatsoever!  My feelings about the garden are based entirely on my experience as an 'undergarderner' (he who does the grunt work) for 38 years.  I'm also a very slow learner, because it's only been the last 2 or 3 years that I finally began to think I am understanding how some of these plants behave.  Here are three beautiful flowers that I recommend you either do not have in your garden, or control very carefully!

The first is this delicate and beautiful Yellow Clematis.  It's got a nice flower which blooms at this time of year, a pale yellow.

And the seed heads are really striking, especially in a heavy dew or after a rain.

But the vines are relentless!  No matter how often you pull them out, they pop back up again a few weeks later.  They spread both by seeds and by the vines, a piece of which can generate a new plant.  The vines root along the way too, creating new plants as they grow.  It started in our garden in one corner, and looked very pretty, but I would guess we now have hundreds of rooted plants throughout the garden, in spite of repeated pulling.  And pulling appears to be the only way to get rid of it.  Now a troublesome invasive plant in western Canada, don't let it get into your garden!  There are many more beautiful and less invasive clematis varieties.

Valerian is another pretty plant, which blooms in late June.  The individual blooms are tiny.

And it attracts butterflies and bees, which is why I leave it to grow and flower.  I photograph more bees and butterflies on this plant than any other.

But it self-seeds prolifically, spreading everywhere.  You get some idea here from the white flowers spread through a large swath of our garden.  It can squeeze itself in beside any other plant, and it stands 4-6 feet tall.   I try to manage this one by letting it bloom and pulling it out before it goes to seed, but I'm not very successful.

The last of these three is that beautiful Gray-headed Coneflower that looks so wonderful in our meadow these days.  This self-seeds so easily that I have completely banished it from the garden.

But to do this you need to recognize the young lower leaves in the spring, before they flower.  In spite of all my efforts this year I spotted 3 or 4 plants in the garden yesterday.

This photo taken out in the meadow shows how prolifically and easily it self-seeds.  All of these are 'volunteers' that have grown from seeds blown in by the wind.

There is a bit of philosophy behind your choice of managing these flowers.  At one extreme is a garden of nicely separated plants, with substantial areas of bare mulch in between.  At the other is a chaotic mixture of crowded plants all mixed together.  'Volunteers', plants that come up from seeds on their own, help create this mix, referred to often as an 'English Cottage Garden'.  I try hard to find a balance someplace in the middle, but you need to choose your own balance, from being ruthless to being quite slack about allowing these 'volunteers' to grow.

21 comments:

  1. I have never seen the yellow clematis that I remember..if I ever do I will remember this post. That is a beautiful butterfly on the one plant...I would be like you and leave a few of those just to attract the butterflies.

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  2. We are in France just now and I find it very worrying how much Japanese Knotweed there is on the side of the roads. Even in a village where someone has taken the time to plant a bed of bright annuals it was obvious no-one is trying to remove the Knotweed. That is one massive thug that will take over the whole country if they let it.

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  3. I remember several beautiful cottage gardens in the village where I grew up. It all looked so easy; just let everything seed itself! Now I've grown older I realise that these gardens always had one feature in common - an elderly person who seemed to be permanently gardening in them! I thought they were enjoying the flowers; now I realise they were engaged in a relentless battle to maintain some kind of order!

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  4. Those gardens do take a lot of work , nice that you have figured out some this invasive plants to help keep it under control.

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  5. Does not sound like you like the flowers in your garden. I have a few clematis growing around our garden, they don't seem any thing like yours

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  6. Beautiful blooms! You have to admire their determination and evolution!

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  7. good to have warnings. I bought 3 different colored coneflowers late summer. I will be careful with how they reproduce next year. All your flowers are lovely. Here valerian is a wildflower.

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  8. Hello, I like the clematis seedheads. Very pretty plants and flowers. Wonderful photos. Have a great day!

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  9. Even though they are so invasive, they are also beautiful. I love the valerian wherever I see it. However, it isn't in my garden. I will take your post as a warning about wha NOT to plant. Thank you! :-)

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  10. I appreciate your knowledge and experience on these plants. I have one of my own which we've talked about. It is the Goutweed or Ground Elder. My sister actually planted it as a ground cover and that is exactly what it is but you need to keep it contained almost every other day! I've managed to get rid of the bulk of it and will continue to do so. Can't post a picture here but your readers can look it up. It is pretty but pops up everywhere even in the middle of other plants.

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  11. These photos are absolutely stunning, loving these flowers! They look beautiful.
    Henry

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  12. I wish I could get coneflowers to flourish in our garden. There seem to be less and less of them each year....

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  13. That Valerian is new to me. So pretty!

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  14. One more I found very invasive was the Obedient p!ant. I had to dig them out by hand. In only one season too.

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  15. They sure are pretty though. I was thinking about getting some clematis but maybe not now!!
    I have cone flowers so I know what you mean about them. I have them ALL over the place. They grow like weeds.

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  16. hehehe, i thought you were talking about me. i am an impulsive planter and an neglectful gardner!!!

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  17. I fall into that 'impulsive planter and neglectful gardener' as well.

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  18. I'd be out of my depth trying to tend gardens.

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  19. I love the way the Ratibida or Grey Headed Cone flower spreads but then I have lots of room for it!

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