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.
There are some plants you can have a love-hate relationship with. For me and phlox, it's more of a like-dislike. It's hard for me to hate a plant that reliably stands tall, blooming for months at a time. Many Broadway shows would love to have such a long run.
Their lavender-pink blooms are backed up to an open fence, providing a vibrant backdrop for both the alley bed and the back yard. Some white phlox have found their way to the party, and so far I've let the gate crashers hang out, too. A woman driving by the alley once complimented me for keeping them so healthy. I smiled, but inwardly laughed, since I'm pretty sure I couldn't kill them if I tried.
Which leads me to the dislike part: They're garden bullies. They'll muscle into territory more confidently than any army, mounting attacks through a forward march and random stealth move, popping up yards away. (Really, in the lettuce patch? I don't think so.) Knowing their habits, each spring I yank out handfuls, trying to draw the line in the dirt to protect the Asian lilies from their encroaching ways. I always think I've done a good job restoring the balance. And then it's August, and I have more white phlox randomly showing up in lily land, and yet another attempt at growing delphiniums isn't going well.
Yes, I know it's my fault. The alley bed is where I always fall down hardest on the job of weeding, winnowing and deadheading to prevent self sowing, so the bullies have nearly free rein, and then I'm set up for another battle the following spring if I don't hack them back in fall.
So what's your favorite garden bully, and how do you keep it in check? (And is it purple? Nearly all my garden thugs are purple: the cheerful, ever-spreading coneflowers, enthusiastic cranesbill and those wretched harebells. If anyone has vanquished harebells, I want to know your secret.)
|Annuals (37)||Books and resources (7)|
|Chickens (3)||Compost (5)|
|Critters and pests (27)||Farmers markets (7)|
|Flowers (68)||Fruit and berries (24)|
|Grasses (20)||Green gardening (17)|
|Lawn care (21)||Perennials (73)|
|Preserving (6)||Rain gardens (2)|
|Seed starting (10)||Soil prep (9)|
|Tools (7)||Transplanting + dividing (8)|
|Trees (26)||Vegetables (95)|
|Weather (59)||Weeds (18)|
|Weekend chores (46)|