Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

One person's flower is another's weed

Posted by: Martha Buns under Perennials Updated: May 5, 2011 - 8:49 AM

 

It's lovely, but I don't want to see it in my yard.

 

What's your nemesis plant? You know, that scourge plant that you can't get rid of no matter how hard you've tried. Or the one you finally vanquished after years of battle.

 If you don't have one of those, congratulations. And kudos, because it means you're much more disciplined than me about restraining spreaders, and more careful to avoid introducing them in the first place.

Clearly, one person's nemesis can be another's favorite plant, depending on circumstances. I recently was reminded of this when I asked for advice about what to plant in Death Alley, that troubled strip in back. I got lots of great suggestions (thanks!), but it was clear that other people have bugaboo plants, too. One person's suggestion, snow on the mountain, was someone else's public enemy.

Another suggestion was lily of the valley, which if the area were more shaded, might do well there. But I couldn't help cringing at  the thought, because for me, it's nemesis No. 1, worse than the ferns, the volunteer harebells and that pretty variegated artemisia I bought that's coming back to haunt me.

As a child, I loved lily of the valley, with its small ruffled flower bells and delightful scent. But that was before I had to wage all-out war against it in my own yard. Previous owners had planted a row along the back of a couple of borders. By the time I realized my peril after a few years, it had marched well beyond its intended space, and its roots were so entwined with other perennials that I had to completely dig out two bedding areas down more than a foot in some cases to get out all the white tentacled roots. I successfully obliterated it in one area, but still see occasional signs of it in another that I attack vengefully.

I know it isn't a bad plant, just badly placed and not properly curbed in my garden. But once a plant achieves nemesis status, it's hard to appreciate its virtues again. I can still enjoy lily of the valley in other people's gardens -- so long as they're far away from mine.

So what garden menace puts you on plant patrol?

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