Monday, October 01, 2007

Not in my garden

Awhile ago, Kim at Blackswamp Girl did a post on things in other people's gardens that you can appreciate, but that you would never want to have in your own garden. Well, I've been thinking about it for a few weeks, and on Saturday I went shopping with a friend to Waterloo Gardens in Exton (super plant selection and a clearance section to.die.for) and was able to further flesh out my list. I bought a bunch of stuff too and will post about that later this week. And be forewarned that I sometimes cross the line into things that, if I were Queen, would never be in anybody's garden. Here is my list.

1. Boxwood. They are pretty. I can appreciate them. I know that they are finicky and to have a substantial boxwood hedge takes patience and a substantial green thumb. They are an investment and I've even heard that they smell like money. They smell like cat pee. Actually reek of cat pee. And for that reason, will never plant one in my yard.

2. Hibiscus. The fact that they are so tropical looking bothers me for some reason. This isn't Bali Hai, this is South Central Pennsylvania. They look fake somehow. Just wrong in this area. Florida? Texas? Southern California? Okay. But really not for mid-Atlantic gardens.

3. A television, mini-fridge, dishwasher, or other appliance that should be inside. I look at a lot of gardening magazines, shows, blogs, etc. This trend of making 'outdoor kitchen rooms' is ridiculous. A grill is fine. A little wine refrigerator and a flat screen television that rises out of a cleverly concealed chest is insane and basically indicates that the individual is not worth knowing.

4. Sweet Woodruff. Something that is in my garden that I desperately want not to be. Oh how I wish that I had never met this plant. And I fear I will never get rid of it. I had this lovely area of Hostas at the front of my house. All different shapes and sizes and colors. A great study in green. Some were then when we moved in 5 years ago and I added some as well. IN the beginning there was a tiny little area of Sweet Woodruff under these hostas. How pretty in the spring, with the bright green of the Woodruff and the new, shiny hosta leaves unfolding. And it has that lovely scent when stepped on. So I transplanted it, spreading it out more evenly among the Hostas. And it looked pretty for two or three more years. This year it went haywire. Forming a dense mat that some of the hostas couldn't even get through. And the hostas that could get through were apparently robbed of any and all moisture. This lovely blue-leaved specimen is no more. This plant should be on the invasive list!
5. David Austin Roses. I love them. They are beautiful and they smell lovely. But you know how when you are dating, and you realize that certain people are simply out of your league? Well these roses are out of my league. I feel like I wouldn't treat them right, and to have something that beautiful die by my hands is just not something I could stand. So I admire them from afar and know that those roses are simply too good for me.
6. Topiary. Again, something I absolutely admire. When you see a formal home and there are these beautifully maintained, clean, sharp shrubs trimmed in a myriad of shapes, it is truly something to behold. But I am not disciplined enough to keep up with something that high maintenance and I don't live in a formal looking house. So no topiaries for me.
7. Barberry. Pretty. Great color. I had a guinea pig named Bear as a child and sometimes I would bring him outside to get some air. And he would escape whatever enclosure I had him in and go straight for the barberry hedge in between our house and the house next door. And I would spend the next hour reaching around the barberry searching for Bear, getting cut up from the thorns. No Barberry for me.
8. Trumpet Vine. Another thing I have that I sincerely wish I didn't. Our front porch is partially covered with lattice. When we moved in, it was entirely covered with Trumpet Vine. It was splitting the wooden lattice everywhere and growing up the roof and covering the satellite and was just a mess. And it never bloomed. In three years, never a bloom. A former homeowner even admitted that the vine had never bloomed. So we replaced the lattice and cut that vine down. I posioned the stump hoping to never see that vine again. It won't die. It comes up all over the flower bed, in the lawn, even at the base of a tree 30 feet away. Evil nasty plant. Yet when I see it happily climbing a fence, abloom with fiery red tubular flowers, I appreciate it.
9. Stella D'oro Daylilies. One of the things that I would ban from anyone's yard were I queen. Totally overused and abused by landscaper, both residential and commercial, in our area.
10. Vinca and myrtle. At some point, someone must have had pots with these plants in the or planted myrtle as a groundcover now long gone. Both of these have escaped and now every year am constantly pulling them out of random spots. I can't kill them. They won't die. Yet a bed of myrtle carpeting the base of a tree is pretty. I'm not sure that I can ever appreciate vinca though. And the same goes with Pachysandra. Sometimes it looks pretty. But it is waaaayyyy overdone and hard to extirpate once established.


Blogger Ali said...

I am so with you on the Stella daylilies. I LOATHE them. I'd rather have regular ol' orange daylilies.

And now I'm worried as I deliberately planted some sweet woodruff this spring. Should I pull it now?

Actually, I'm with you on all of these items, especially the tv & mini fridge. Ugh, if you must watch the tube do it inside where it won't cause noise pollution.


2:45 PM  
Blogger ellipsisknits said...

I think I mostly agree with you, though I do like boxwoods in comparison to other evergreen shrubs at least. I'd certainly rather have them than taxus.

but barberry, trumpetvine, hibiscus...I'm right with you.

I am curious though, you've eliminated every shady ground-cover I know of. I'm not entirely happy with my shady ground-cover experiences either, so I have to ask, if you needed one, what would you use? Pick a lesser of evils, or is there something I don't know about?



5:21 PM  
Blogger kris said...

Good list - I agree with most of it - Stellas are overused and outdoor kitchens with tv's???? no way!

But I do have to take exception to the hibiscus - I LOVE my hibiscus - mine are still blooming - since July - in Minnesota. As long as they handle the cold winters with no babying, they're staying! lol

5:43 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Please give the boxwoods and the roses a try. I live two miles from the Exton store and you can come and tour our gardens loaded with boxwoods and DA roses.

7:28 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Ali, it depends on if you have things planted amongst the sweet woodruff that you don't want to be killed. Let it go and see what it does. Maybe yours won't go into overdrive and turn on you like mine did.

Elipsisknits, I guess I have developed a prejudice against most of the shady groundcovers. I do like Ajuga (bugleweed) though. Very pretty. And even though Ivy can turn into a pain in the ass (and harbor gargantuan spiders) it looks nice. And apparently sweet woodruff is a great groundcover, cause mine was in dry shade (under deciduous trees. Looks ratty in the late summer/fall though.

Kris, you live on the water though. I think Hibiscus near water is appropriate. It just looks weird here.

Bobby, I really do think boxwood is pretty, from afar. They just stink. Some people don't mind the stink. I even bought my friend a boxwood at Waterloo for her birthday. She loves the smell. And DA roses are spectacular. I would love to have a flowerbed of just them. I'd end up killing them though and feeling realllllyyy bad.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Either my boxwoods don't smell that bad or I'm used to the scent of cat pee from all my neighbors' roaming pets. Anyway, Meresy, after watching boxwood freeze and not grow much in Illinois, it was rather thrilling to buy a house with an established boxwood hedge in Austin.

Then there's shiny tender hibiscus and tough hibiscus - the evergreen Chinese type may look Bali Hai, yes! Various herbaceous perennials are native plants in Illinois, Georgia, the south, parts of Texas and much of "the middle", but maybe not in PA?

Stellas, flat-screen outdoor televisions, trumpet vines, and barberry are NIMG here, too. I'm undecided about David Austins - they weren't hard to grow in IL, and some people have luck with them here, too.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with every one of your statements. I also had sweet woodruff for a while. It took lots of work to clear it out. Our soil is so sandy that I could easily pull it out, but it kept coming back!

My experiences with rose plants have not gone well. I do like them, but can't keep them growing well after the first or second year.

I laugh when I think of an outdoor room here in Maine. You could use it about 3 months a year! And then, you would have to wear a jacket some nights in those three months.

4:37 PM  
Blogger LisaBee said...

Try the roses! Your climate is different, I know, but I have several David Austins (Graham Thomas, Teasing Georgia, Golden Celebration, Pat Austin, Abraham Darby-- oh, I guess I DO have a few!), and they don't seem too fussy, to me!

1:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sorry, I forgot to mention that not all boxwood varieties smell.
Also deer do not touch boxwood.
Knockout roses are the easiest to grow and bloom spring through frost.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Meresy_g, I'm still giggling at your comment on David Austin roses... about them being out of your league. I know what you mean, but not about David Austins, about certain houseplants! And I definitely agree with you re: Stellas.

I was feeling all smug about my sweet woodruff because it's in dry shade, but now that I see yours was, too, I'm getting a little worried. I'll be watching it like a hawk now! (And you're right, it's looking pretty ratty right about now.)

About the hibiscus, I'm with you on that one, too... but only kind of. Does that mean you dislike all tropical flowers? (Even my beloved cannas with their funky purpley foliage?!)

7:23 PM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Kim, keep an eye on that woodruff. A very sneaky plant. I lost two painted ferns in addition to the hostas. It just choked them out. I don't hate all tropical plants. I like Cannas and don't see them as overtly tropical. And hibiscus can work in some situations, like near water (pool, lakeside etc.).

9:36 AM  
Blogger cyndy said...

Yes to #3 and #8...but I can never have enough of the sweet woodruff! May Wine, you know...

my sw is having a contest with the wild ginger, after seeing what became of your hosta, I think I will lift the ginger to a safer place ;-)

10:03 AM  
Blogger woof nanny said...

My mom has a lot of land around her home that she has to have trimmed this time of year (fire season). This year the fire dept made her trim a lot more than usual, including plants that were green. I'm not sure that's accurate, but she used it as an excuse to get rid of the blackberry vines. In theory, they sound divine. But then they just take over everything. And I do mean everything. I used to think I liked the look of all this growth until it was trimmed. I can see the stream again, I can see a great distance--it's so nice. But in the process, the brush was cleared all the way to her back fence, in a little area where I had a garden as a child. I grew sunflowers and zinnias, and love zinnias to this day because of that garden. So it's my chance to till the soil again, and I will. I'll keep you posted.

2:37 AM  
Blogger this said...

Now I've started thinking about what plants would appear on my list...I usually steer clear of thinking about plants that I wouldn't attempt to grow.

Daylilies for sure: they would get out of control quickly like a weed here.

David Austins: I like because they don't require much attention at all. Mine looked a bit sad for a year or two of neglect but they have started looking after themselves LOL. Perhaps they have stronger wild rose genes than modern varieties.

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the first mention I have been able to find about Sweet Woodruff being invasive. It is AWFUL! Killing the myrtle that my husband so carefully cultivated, rooted and planted. I cannot figure out how to get rid of the sweet woodruff. When I try to pull it out, it just breaks off - hours of pulling provides no significant benefit. Does anyone know if I can use some kind of chemical or something - like roundup? I want this stuff GONE!
Please help me. I am in NY state.

4:43 PM  
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9:09 PM  

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