Sunday, 8 September 2013

Garden Boors?

You told me in your comments on 'Blue Gardens', that especially in Australia, Ipomoea is a wicked weed .(See also Rosemary's lovely post
Now I read in Barbara Damrosch's 'Garden Primer' - a no-nonsense book - about the Perennial Pea - under a headline I don't like very much: "Perennials That Spread". She writes: 
'Perennial Pea. Lathyrus lotifolius. The flowers are handsome and long-blooming clusters in shades of pink, lavender and white.' 
The following sentence has a somewhat threatening undertone, which pleases me even less: 
"Its evils are described on page 145.' 
Fluttering I leaf through: 
' But if someone offers you Lathyrus lotifolius (...) say "Thanks but no thanks.: it does not just crowd other plants - it obliterates them. Once perennial sweet pea is established, you will never get all of its roped roots of your garden.' 
THAT Gertrude J. hasn't told me. She praises the white Perennial Pea (see above), which she planted in a very tricky procedure under the delphinium that - once it has withered - makes a sort of climbing aid. Of course I had imitated that immediately, but the slugs munched away the delphiniums, and the perennial pea disappeared after two years. 
But pink coloured ones climb behind my realization of Vita Sackeville-West's Sweet Briar Hedge. Should I now cry "Thanks but no thanks!" Or is that too late, and my garden is doomed and utterly infiltrated by roped roots? 
And that is not the only garden plague - on page 145 I find quite a lot of my other darlings which had filled me with gardener's pride and joy because they were so vigorous. Till now... 
As there are: 
The evening primrose. The bushy aster. (At least I hadn't bought scarlet monarda, because I never liked her). I tried to remove 'Bouncing Bet', saponaria officinalis, without success, as three pale pink clusters of flowers in a bed show. Damrosch cautions against coneflowered rudbeckia - though I love her heart- warming yellow in autumn. But why does she not speak about sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called Jerusalem artichoke? That is really VERY vigorous. When I bought it in a garden center, a customer warned me, but I thought: "Oh, that's good - the more the merrier." Now I saw at the farmers' market as a last resort that you can eat the tubers, but I still hesitate. 
But let's go on with Barbar Damrosch's list of plants, which I now secretly call 'boors in the garden'. There is 'campanula rapunculoides'. The 'Ribbon Grass', which the English call fanciful 'Gardener's Garter'. It is this pretty light-green-blue grass with the white stripe. Of course I have that too, though it gets less and less. And of course Centrantus ruber, which by now foams all around the house. Viola odorata - oh yes, that's true... And - because I don't own it, I am pleased by the combative spirit of 'The Confederate Violet':
"It will march through your garden faster than Robert E. Lee." says Barbara. 
Here his troops haven't arrived. 
Not yet.     


  1. You ARE witty!
    Garden Boors in one climate are Garden Lovelies in another. Butterfly Bush is abhorred here, treasured elsewhere - same thing with Scotch Broom, Loosestrife and others. I love English Ivy but there is quite a movement to get rid of all of it on the island. We can't even whisper the word Morning Glory here for fear of neighbours with flamethrowers (well, that may be a wee bit of an exaggeration!).

  2. Dear Pondside,
    thank you! Yes - everything is relative (I adore dandelion :-)
    Scotch Broom - in Scotland: so lovely! A feast for the eyes. Here they sell purple loosestrife in garden centers - I have seen whole borders of brooks disappear (makes me think of another post-theme). We had a neighbour who secretly chopped off the head of a plant in my new garden - I was angry, but in that case he was right, though I would have wished he had asked and informed me - I was a greenhorn and didn't know the danger of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), that grew there wild.

  3. Have you ever noticed that even the most obnoxious loud-mouthed boor at the party often has a girl friend or spouse hanging onto his every word with adoration? Same for your garden boors. It doesn't matter what others have to say about the plants in your garden. If YOU love them, that's all that matters. Your garden is meant to feed your soul and pleasure your senses, so you do it however you darned well see fit. (You might want to leave the bamboo plants out, though...)

    1. Dear Susan,
      haha: of course the bamboo is rustling in my garden with his beautiful leaves, in a very pictorial way :-)
      You are right about the adoring spouses - in Germany we have a saying: 'Every pot finds its lid', so maybe it is true adoration? I was stunned once by seeing such a display - am still stupefied - but then I thought: luck for him...

  4. Britta... Plant love is truly in the eye of the beholder. A young friend gave me a bucket filled with Colocasia, commonly called Elephant Ears. I thought them quite attractive and since we had just built our home all garden offerings were welcomed. Little did I know that 25 years later I would still be fighting the elephant ear battle! They are so invasive and while they are lovely, lush, leafy plants... They will take over the garden! We even yank them out, throw in the compost pile and guess what? They take hold and grow through the clippings and such. I even noticed there is one growing under a stand of pine trees in the vacant lot next door. Did I say elephant ears are tenacious little suckers? :-) Happy gardening.. To your own taste!

    1. Dear Susan,
      wow: I just looked up Colocasia - now I understand why they are called Elephant Ears! And when I read that they are members of the Araceae, I wonder whether they are not poisonous too - we have a tiny, weeny member of that family in our woods, and children are kept far from it... But even if not poisonous, it is very spacious -- very well for a jungle, but not for a garden of normal dimensions. Seems to have been a Danaer present. Feeling very well on the compost, I believe - feeding and growing.