Monday, July 18, 2011

Learn from my mistakes, #1

I’ve decided to start a new serious of posts called “learn from my mistakes.” In these (probably all too frequent) posts I’ll be exposing some of the stupid mistakes I’ve made in my garden in hopes that you can avoid doing the same. First up we’ll start with…

Don’t plant a Yucca under a tree. Seemed like a good idea, and it works fine for 50 weeks of the year. But if you live for your Yucca blooms then you’re going have to tie them up to keep them from pulling the plant out of the ground as they reach for the sun. And other times you might just loose the bloom all together as it shoots up into the tree canopy.
Don’t plant a vine in the grass without somehow marking it.
Hoping to disguise a plain chain link gate (needed to keep the dog from chasing every passing bicyclist) I planted a Passion Flower at the base. It had just opened the first of many blooms, I was in love. Then the other day I started cutting the long grass that I couldn’t get to with the mower. I cut the stem of the vine off even with the ground. I am an idiot. And now my gate looks like this, no vine, no flowers, no style.
Don’t wait to deal with pests in the garden.
Otherwise your beautiful Impatiens Omeiana will look like this.


  1. AnonymousJuly 18, 2011

    What an instructive post, one of the most useful I've seen on garden blogs in a while. Thank you -- and commiserations.

  2. Oh, sad Impatiens! What is the pest and how would you have dealt with it if you hadn't waited?

    Sorry also about your lovely Passion Flower. They are so amazing in their flower detail.

  3. Oh it...I've been thinking about doing an entire post about planting full-sun plants in part shade and thinking my own wishful thinking will be enough to keep them from flopping! I've kicked myself over very similar experiences like you had with the passion only take 1 second of absent-mindedness to end months of waiting...sigh.

  4. This is a great topic, Loree. Boy I could write a book! I bet all of us could. I will take note of the Yucca under the tree snafu. The Passionflower, I bet it will grow back. Your Impatiens leaves look like the bite marks of the weevil which comes out at night and is very elusive. I think you should be excused from this one. :)

  5. AnonymousJuly 18, 2011

    Hi! Great idea for a series and something we can all contribute to. I really agree with your follower about 1 second of absent-mindedness..there are times I could kick myself for being in a hurry or not thinking before doing. One of my mistakes I need to fix this fall is moving a Dawn Redwood out of full sun and into at least afternoon shade. What was I in a semi-arid place, how could this forest tree take full sun! Ugh!

  6. My problem is trying to remember all the mistakes.....LOL

  7. I can sympathise with those mistakes though with me they translate to:

    Don't plant Yucca gloriosa close to my sitting area. Not everyone appreciates a spike in the back.

    Don't strim around the plastic dustbin you are using to brew nettle and comfrey soup as liquid feed. Holes in the bin don't hold in the liquid.

    Put down pellets before the slugs shred everything in sight, not after. I make this mistake every year.

  8. The Yucca under the tree...ditto Dasylirion...very true! Useful comments for sure. Yes, you could write a book on what not to do; have slowly been writing website posts on such things.

    Also brings up something I take for granted in ABQ - I can use a number of species of Agave, Nolina, even Dasylirion under a number of trees with only 1/3 or less sun. But I bet where moisture and sun is less like Cascadia, you might not be able to?

  9. yuccas and kniphofias. If you saw my bloom day post you may have noticed a lean in my K. 'Apricot'. Thanks for the insights!

  10. Aaaayyyy. What happened to your Impatiens! Was it Leaf Cutter bees? It doesn't look like slug damage.

  11. I would add, don't plant Passion Vine. I did once, and it ate a Crape Myrtle and a Poncirus. It took me 3 years to get rid of it.

  12. Thank you Patricia!

    MulchMaid, I think I must have fallen asleep during the pest section of the Master Gardener classes. Seriously, I am BAD at identifying and acting. I am an organic gardener out of laziness..."ignore it and it will go away" thinking. In this particular case I saw that something was munching and kept looking for the culprit but could find nothing. That's as far as I took it. I think that both Grace (Weevil) and Derick (Leaf Cutter bees) could be right.

    scott, the sun/shade mix is a good one that could provide some instructive photo opportunities!

    Grace, really you think it might grow back? My husband said the same thing but I thought "he's crazy"...

    igarden, wow...moving a tree sounds so daunting!

    Beech Street, sounds like you don't make very many?

    Trainer John, oh wouldn't retroactive pellets be a great invention?

    DD, I've been thinking about this idea of an agave planted under a it would be a great way to deal with the rain since hopefully the tree canopy would provide a drier spot and the tree itself would take much of the moisture. However yes, the sun issue is a big one. Since these are in our parking strip they are loners out there in a sea of sun and asphalt. They would be perfect for the agave treatment, except for the fact that ours is a well used street and there are a lot of feet trampling our parking strip.

    Ryan, I didn't...but of course I had to go look again.

    Derick, I agree that it doesn't look like slugs, surprisingly. You might be on to something with the leaf cutter theory. Hey yesterday I discovered a gorgeous purple flower on the impatiens you gifted me! (not the one with the silver stripe but the other one - the book with the names is downstairs and I'm to lazy this morning to go get it).

    Les, yikes! Your conditions must be perfect for it, I on the other hand have to (had to) baby mine along.

  13. AnonymousJuly 19, 2011

    So true! I've been thinking a lot about the ol' trial and error (or vice versa) lately. I think that's what really makes a gardener.... None of us have a green thumb 100% of the time, but gardeners are willing to try, try again, despite the costs to time, money and energy.

    Thanks for the post.

  14. Making mistakes are part of the fun (Ok, not always pleasurable though!). It's by trial and error made by oneself (and by others as your post shows) that we learn and improve from. Anyway, the Impatiens is a toughie, there's always next year for perfect leaves (or next month even):)

  15. I need to know the name of that passion flower. It's a beauty, and perhaps less of a thug than the ones that are intent on taking over the world (hope it is at least aggressive enough to spring back for you).

  16. I hear you. I was quite happy to have a self sown Elder sapling growing near my fence when... but now it's trunk is thickening rapidly (3yrs old) and the whole thing has to lean forward much like your yukka. We live and learn. Well, have I learned? It's still there, getting thicker every month.

  17. You're not the only one who makes the mistake of planting a yucca under a tree. Nature does that too.


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