Sunday, October 27, 2013

Problems in the Garden

Now that there is very little left to do in the garden I have been thinking about some of the problems I encountered this year.


1. Foam flower Tiarella Cordifolia

Do you even see the leaves?

1. Bad Location: One of the most difficult plants to get established this summer has been the foam flower. I planted five foam flowers under a silver maple with the thought that they would make a nice ground cover. I knew growing anything under the maple would be problematic but not to the degree I have encountered. I have watered these plants almost on a daily basis since May and they still look like they are about to die. All I can do is see if they survive the winter.

2. Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas
2. Undesirable Traits: I had high hopes for the Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea. Pink frothy balls of colour behind the cappuccino colour of my house all summer long. This is the second year I have grown them. They are a disappointment. They flop. They flop horribly. They flop and look horrid even with support. They are cousins to the Annabelle H. arborescens which in my experience does not flop to this degree. In the photo, which was taken in August, I cut my 5 disappointments down to 6 inches to a foot in height. I took out a lot of straggly growth too which is why they don't look like much. Don't bother with these.


3. Destruction
3. Then there was the rampant and willful destruction of newly planted shrubs. I believe in this case it was squirrels who thought my elderberries (in this case Sambucus 'aurea') and bush honeysuckles Diervella lonicera needed some rearranging. I have outsmarted the rodents before and managed to do so again. All six shrubs are now growing well.

4. Death
4. Unhappy and unexplained death in the family. I planted three new spicebush (Lindera benzoin) this spring and this one did not survive. It was surprising as it was doing quite well , or so I thought. The other two are doing just fine and are putting out their buds for next spring as I write this.

All these plants are new to the garden. You make recall that this year I planted over 70 plants and transplanted some others (you can see what I have done here and here). There are always going to be surprises. Death is expected. Time will judge the good from the bad. I have lost a few perennials not mentioned here but I won't cry about that now. All in all I think my new plantings did very well.

15 comments:

  1. Such is a gardener's life, eh Patty? We look, we fall in love, we plant….and the plant kicks the bucket. Or just never re-appears. But your failure rate is very low so I wouldn't worry, but I realize it's still such a disappointment.

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    1. You are right Astrid I am fine with the failure rate. And a gardener's life like all life is a cycle of life and death.

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  2. Hmmm, I am reading some familiar woes here. I wanted a swath of tiarella and spent the first 4 years bemoaning how paltry mine were. I planted more, lost most, what lived was puny. This year (a very wet spring) they took off and have made a healthy, full stretch of plants that bloomed well and are still green and full now. You may have to move yours, I think they want way more moisture than we are led to believe.

    Spicebush was also a woe for me for five years. I lost several that crisped just like yours, 3 others are growing but only so-so, but two have bulked up nicely and are pretty. Lindera benzoin is difficult to establish I think, just as sassafras is. But worth it if you can get yours to make a go of it. Keep trying with these lovely plants!

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    1. If my tiarella survives the winter I will plant it elsewhere as you suggest. I will spend the winter deciding on its replacement. You were very patient to give yours as much time as you did Laurrie.

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  3. It can be quite frustrating sometimes in the garden. I decided to plant bushes (spicebush) and trees in pots in spring and put them in the garden in fall. I'll let you know how the spicebush do

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    1. That extra time in the pot sounds like a good idea. Gives them time to adjust to your light levels and temperatures and the fall is usually a great time to plant. I wish yours well Donna.

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  4. I solve my problems in the garden by not even looking to find them. My garden does well without much disappointment only because I do have a tendency to neglect it after spring. All hydrangea suffered this year in our area I think. Mine had loads of flowers, but they did droop in the hot dry weather. The lacecaps were the worst. I was thinking of not even specing them for clients anymore. Most have irrigation, but it is such a water waste when plants are so water needy.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I have never tried the lacecaps. Some are very beautiful but I think I may need more sun then I have for them. Maybe a test area is needed :)

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  5. It seems someone has been nibbling on your Tiarella, Patty. Maybe the plants will do better next year when they are settled. Except for the death ones of course :)

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    1. Thanks Denise. My fingers are crossed that some survive!

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  6. I have found that tiarella is not as easy to grow as you might expect. There also a lot of fussy (bad) cultivars out there. I think the best are the River Series, very vigorous. I have Wissahickon planted on a slope under a black walnut and it is out competing blue wood aster. I agree with you about the floppiness of Invincibelle Spirit and showed photos on my post before last. I did have a beautiful crop of flowers but they dry to an ugly brown. Incrediball is my favorite, ramrod straight. There is a new pink one called Bella Anna, haven't tried it.

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    1. I have never seen Wissahickon nor the River Series, maybe we will get them later. Canada always seems behind the USA in offering new plants. It looks promising and if it is out competing your asters... look out.

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  7. I killed my tiarella last year. They like moister soil than I can offer. There was probably too much root competition with the maple. Try epimediums. They are super tough. Voles ate the roots of my spice bushes so I gave up trying to grow them. Diervilla is pretty tough so I'm glad they survived the rodent attack.

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    1. Tammy, thanks for the suggestion. I am sorry to hear about your vole attack. I don't think I even know what a vole looks like.

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