Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What have you planted that future owners of your garden will curse you for?

While working on yesterday's post "a walk in the park," Evan Bean (The Practical Plant Geek) and I got to musing on vinca and bamboo and other plants that are overly aggressive in the average garden. I'm no stranger to vinca, I waged a several-weeks-long war on a particularly nasty patch of it shortly after we moved here in 2005. I wasn't blogging then so it was a silent war, unlike when I decided to tackle the bishops weed in 2011 and issued a public challenge to myself. Here's the expanding patch of bishop's weed, before I won the war...

So what have I planted that future owners of this small plot of land will do battle with? All the early and obvious offenders like Galium odoratum (sweet woodruff), Euphorbia amygdaloides var. Robbiae, Chasmanthium latifolium (northern sea oats) or Nassella tenuissima (feather grass) failed to take over. My cramscaping ways, stinginess with summer water, and neat-nick tenancies (cutting back before seeds were allowed to spread) all seem to have helped. These plants that could have taken over are shadows of their former selves and some are even struggling to maintain a footing.

Liriope muscari could become a problem, except it's trapped between the patio and large metal stock tanks...


Which brings me to the bamboo, which we've contained in those big metal tanks, but I realize it's likely to break free someday...a scary thought indeed.

I guess the thing I've done that future gardeners might curse me for is plant too many trees. Ones I watch and prune and know I'll need to make choices about, but they may not.

Thinking about those trees the worst offender is probably the fast growing Paulownia tomentosa. I coppice it every spring so it stays "small" and I just get the luxurious large leaves but none of the blooms...blooms that could go on to form incredibly successful seeds that would populate the neighborhood with its offspring.

So I'm curious, what have you planted that future owners of your garden will curse you for?

(Edited to add: Tetrapanax! How did I miss that one? That could become a real nightmare at some point in the future....)

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29 comments:

  1. Freesia laxa, flowering grass, has a bunch of other names, oddly enough not lax or floppy like the more common kind of freesia; pretty flower but spreads like mad.

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    1. Ha, guess what someone just gave me a 4" pot of? Thanks for the heads up!

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  2. Muscari botryoides (Grape Hyacinth), Arisarum proboscideum (Mouse Plant), Linaria purpurea (Toadflax) to name a few! The Muscari came with the house, but I did encourage them for a few years.

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    1. I planted Arisarum proboscideum years ago...it's too dry to thrive where it is but I was marveling the other day that it was still alive.

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  3. I've wondered about that also. I've been extremely careful about pest plants not for any future owner but for me not wanting to have to deal with them.

    Maybe the native oak will prove to be an issue someday, but people tend to love oaks. 'Hercules', perhaps?

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    1. Aloe 'Hercules'? I've never heard of a thug aloe...

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  4. Things I curse myself for as well as for the future owners: lamium (many varieties but especially Archangel), trees too close to the house, limelight hydrangea planted too close to the front of the garden (used to be a plum tree behind it was my excuse) and needs severe pruning every spring, cereuluem alliums (they will take over the world but they are so pretty!), foetidus hellebore (lots of babies easily weeded, but still lots of babies). That's the short list. I inherited bishop's weed that is 90% gone after 23 years. The wind gave me bindweed in a section of the garden and some kind of little euphorbia in the gravel under my potting bench. The birds or squirrels planted a tall Oregon grape. It provides good screening from the neighbors, but its babies are everywhere. I think about what my garden would look like in just one season if I were unable to care for it. Oh, and the Kenilworth ivy from my mother - now deceased. How can I get rid of that, but still...

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    1. Wow mahonia seedlings...who knew? (something I'll watch for). I had to look up Kenilworth ivy, those leaves are lovely!

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  5. Lamium! The bane of my existence. I gift from a fellow gardener, it has seeded and spread itself everywhere (even in our woods) and is swallowing many other less robust perennials. Have tried numerous ways to eradicate it with limited success.

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    1. Yikes...I'm glad I've avoided this one, sounds serious.

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  6. I rue the fact that former owners here planted asparagus fern and ivy but I've certainly contributed nightmares of my own. The two that most immediately come to mind are Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) and Euphorbia 'Black Pearl'. I've begun removing sections of the latter and the day may come when I also go after the former, which this year has spread into the narrow spaces between my paving stones.

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    1. Stipa tenuissima certainly seems to be a common problem plant. I am amazed I escaped! Euphorbia 'Black Pearl' reminded me of a local (just up the street) garden where Euphorbia characias was allowed to reseed over and over and over. It was beautiful, but I was very glad to NOT be their next door neighbor.

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  7. Oh, yeah, we've all made 'em - those 'live-and-learn' mistakes. A variegated 'annual' bamboo that turned out to be perennial, reverted back to boring green. And the worst, that I will ALWAYS regret planting: Houttuynia cordata - I really hate that plant and it literally stinks like fish! I have tried multiple times to eliminate it, screening all the soil (even used RU once in desperation), all to no avail. The smallest root regrows. I am very impressed that you managed to eliminate goutweed - kudos!

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    1. Houttuynia cordata is a medicinal herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. I bet you could find a local herbalis or botanical medicine practitioner like a ND who would love to come harvest/remove and make tincture.

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    2. I had to look up Houttuynia cordata, ha! One of it's common names is fish mint, ugh. My goutweed/bishops weed battle was intense, I touched every bit of that soil repeatedly. My back! Oh...I think that was the first time I ever visited a chiropractor. So glad that battle is behind me.

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  8. Houttuynia cordata is the most awful thing I have EVER planted. I planted it in this garden in 1998. It wasn't long and I knew that I was in big trouble. Those variegated leaves were so enchanting. Little did I know that it would soon try to take over my garden. I have been trying ever since then to get rid of it. Even this year, it has popped up in the middle of a small shrub. It is the most cunning plant I know. It knows I am not going to destroy that shrub to get rid of it. What does a person do??? If someone that doesn't garden purchases this property it might just take over the world.

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    1. Ugh. You're the second person to mention Houttuynia cordata, it sounds nasty! As for its coming up in the middle of a shrub...I hate that! And somehow they know...

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  9. Ah yes ,the damnable Gallium odoratum , not only will future owners curse me, I have cursed myself. And of course there is the beautiful Phygelius 'Moonraker' which requires large chunks to be dug up every year. But the absolute worst is Euphorbia 'Fens Ruby' ..in fact I am just about ready to resort to Roundup.

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    1. I planted Gallium odoratum in my Spokane garden and then brought it here. I wonder what it's doing there? Funny my friend Patricia is a lover of 'Fens Ruby' and just posted about it on FB. Good luck!

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  10. Oh boy! Trachycarpus are colonizing the garden in incredible ways. I think I have too many blooming females and baby palms are to be found by the hundreds around the yard. Of course, that brings my heart exceeding joy. I also planted tetrapanex (giddy!!). Beyond that, the most thuggish introductions, by me, are the sedums that seem to multiply and grow right before your eyes. I could probably stock the nation's big box stores with the amount of sedums and sempervivums that I have.

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    1. I noticed a few trachycarpus babies under my oldest tree, I'm going to have to keep an eye on them as I don't have room for a forest, as lovely as that would be. I wish I lived closer and I'd take some of those sempervivium off your hands!

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  11. I'm not too worried about it. Most of the plants that can take over need summer water to survive. The next owner need only neglect the garden for a year or so and it will be survival of the fittest. Besides, I plan to live here forever. :)

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  12. I hope whoever follows us will have our own tolerance for exuberant plants. Helps so much to avoid the dreaded spotty effect that curses the British garden. But vinca is an interesting one. We have a ruined cottage on our land which we know has not been inhabited for over 100 years. It is surrounded by vinca. We love this remnant of some cottagers' garden. True living history. No curses at all.Xxx

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  13. Lilys of the Valley, which bloom little and always look tatty. American Ginger, which is being very dull and popping up where I don't want it. The worst spreader, though, although I love it is Geranium Macrorrhizum. As a result I have a lot of it, and if someone doesn't enjoy it, they will hate me.

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  14. ribbon grass, northern sea oats to name a few. I loved those sea oats and the whole point of them was their dangling seed heads. So it was hard (aesthetically) to get rid of them. I did it soon enough that it was not too big of a job to eradicate the.

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  15. Monarda didyma, I suppose, but how could anyone think they have too much Monarda didyma?

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  16. This is a fun mental exercise to me. I just assume that whoever buys this property after it leaves my family will either be a junk hoarder who will bury the garden in car parts and scrap metal, or will bulldoze everything and plant Douglas firs to harvest as their "retirement" fund. But let's say the plants luck out and a gardener actually takes over? Things they might lament are Euphorbia cyparissias 'Fen's Ruby' (I like it), Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae (it's taken off in one spot, might have to eliminate it), Euphorbia characias (it has started to seed around a bit), any of the running bamboos even though they are easily contained with a couple rhizome prunings each year, maybe some of the clumping bamboos as they continue their slow spread in packed beds, Ruta graveolens (they likely won't know what it is and will get the irritating sap on their skin), Stipa gigantea (reseeds prolifically, debating removing most of it myself), Carex comans (same as the Stipa), Geranium robustum (mostly seeds into the gravel), Phygelius, Epilobium 'UC Hybrid' which spreads far too much and spends too much time looking ugly in my garden, possibly Lupinus rivularis which does reseed prolifically though the cycle is easily broken, and yarrow which I only incidentally planted as part of a seed mix. Gets everywhere, grows 3-4 feet tall, and is very ugly when it goes brown and crispy in summer. Wow, I'm terrible. I pity the gardener who follows me.

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