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.

Plants I regret

Posted by: Kim Palmer under Annuals, Critters and pests, Flowers, Perennials, Trees Updated: June 9, 2014 - 11:16 AM

When I was a younger, inexperienced gardener, I did some things I regret.

I brought home some plants I shouldn't have -- good-looking specimens that I didn't know much about. They're still haunting my landscape.

There's the contorted filbert I picked up at Home Depot about 10 years ago. It was small and quirky, with curly, twisty little branches. I put it in one of my garden beds next to a big boulder, thinking it would stay small and twisty and cute. 

Instead it grew like a giant weed, shooting out long straight branches with none of the curlicued charm that first caught my eye. 

It also brought a most unwelcome invader: Japanese beetles. If I had any before the filbert, I never noticed them. But once the filbert took up residence, they arrived in droves. By mid-summer, the filbert's foliage is thick with beetles. If they just stayed there and munched on the filbert it wouldn't be so bad, but they also move on to feast on my nearby roses and other plants.

Then there's the climbing rose I picked up the summer I moved into my house. The rose attracted me with its bright brilliant pink blooms, so I impulsively bought it and a big arbor to support it. The rose is still pretty -- for about two weeks in early summer when it's covered with vibrant flowers.

The rest of the time, it's just bare straggly canes that burst beyond the confines of the arbor and stab me with their thorns when I try to tame them.

Now that I know better -- that there are beautiful rose options that bloom all season long -- I could kick myself for not doing a little research first. 

The biggest mistake in my landscape is a maple, also planted the first year summer we moved into the house. We were new to suburbia, after years of living in the leafy urban core, and we missed the trees. So we planted one. 

Instead of carefully choosing the best location for a tree, we lazily picked the spot where the kids' wading pool had already killed the grass. And instead of carefully researching and choosing the best type of tree, we grabbed a maple at the garden center -- without reading the tag. We figured it would give us beautiful fall color. It does. But it also turned out to be some weird dwarf species that is more bush-shaped than tree-shaped. Instead of a traditional trunk crowned with branches, it produced multiple trunks low to the ground. It's too low and squatty to provide shade you can actually sit under. But, of course, it completely shades my garden, making it impossible to grow the sun-loving plants that thrived there when the tree was young.

One of these years, I'll probably get rid of these unsightly reminders of my impetuous youth. But it sure would have been easier if I'd just done my homework -- at least read the tags -- before I bought them.

Impulse garden purchases can be fun -- but save them for annuals and small plants; that's the lesson I learned the hard way.

Anyone else out there have things in their landscape that they planted in ignorance and now regret?

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