I’ll never plant that again
Garden Clippings for Sept. 26, 2020
“I’ll never plant that again!”
If I were to make a list of favorite plants, I would need more than one sheet of paper. There are a ton of plants on my favorite list, but there are perhaps just as many plants that I would never plant in my garden. A few, like Rose of Sharon, Emerald Cedar and Shademaster Locust are just not my cup of tea, but there are many plants that I consider downright nasty. Most are perennials.
English Ivy: Also known as Baltic Ivy, or just plain Ivy, is a plant we love to hate. Gardeners looking for lush growth, easy care, evergreen foliage will love English Ivy, but the rest of us are not keen on the stuff. English Ivy will eventually form a dense mat that smothers the rest of the garden. Once established it is difficult to dig out. Oddly enough, there are several varieties of English Ivy that make wonderful indoor hanging plants.
Weeping Willow: This huge growing tree with an ultimate spread equal to its height is lovely to look at. Willows, with graceful arching branches, light green leaves and yellow limbs grow easily along ditches, ponds and wherever there is ample moisture. But Willows have aggressive thirsty roots that lift sidewalks and plug up drainage tiles, making them enemies of farmers.
Chinese Elm: Once popular as hedges, Chinese Elm becomes a large growing tree that grows quickly, is weak wooded, and constantly self-seeds. Chinese Elm is easy to grow but makes a messy insect-ridden shade tree.
Lily of the Valley: At first glance, Lily of the Valley is an innocent looking, cute plant that produces beautiful fragrant white blooms in spring. The plant is highly adaptable, growing easily in full sun or shade, preferring moist soil but tolerating dry soil. Unfortunately, Lily of the Valley knows no boundaries. It spreads without regard, overtaking desirable herbaceous plants in its path.
Lyme Grass: This innocent looking grey-blue grass is the perfect spreading perennial for those tight spaces where not much else will grow. But like Lily of the Valley, its aggressive growth wreaks havoc in the perennial garden. Those who try to dig it out will be frustrated because a few lingering roots will likely come back with a vengeance. Lyme Grass, along with the similar Variegated Ribbon Grass, is a popular choice in parking lot islands where it is quite impossible to spread into home gardens. Unfortunately, these spreading grasses give good ornamental grasses a bad name.
Forget-Me-Not: Not every gardener has trouble with Forget Me Nots, but many will find it annoying as the plant self-seeds wherever it wants. Forget Me Nots have delightful light blue flowers that bloom in early spring. Thank goodness, their roots are shallow and are easy to pull out. Forget Me Nots are the official adopted flower for Alzheimer Societies.
Goutweed: This plant lives up to its name as a bothersome weed. Goutweed has merit as an attractive plant that grows in challenging spots, but if given the space it grows aggressively throughout the garden, suffocating desirable herbaceous plants. Goutweed might be a good choice for the narrow spot between the house and sidewalk where it cannot spread into the rest of the garden.
Manitoba Maple: In the right spot, Manitoba Maple is not a bad tree. I rather like its interesting, distorted growth habit and distinctive black stems. But Manitoba Maple is not the best choice for home landscapes. Their fallen seeds pop up everywhere and clog eaves troughs. The tree is weak wooded and readily drops limbs during windstorms.
Austrian Pine: Often planted along highways and near industrial sites, Austrian Pine has a reputation for being able to grow where no other evergreen will find a home. The tree is tolerant of wind, salt, draught, pollution, and any other peril imaginable. This once popular conifer has fallen out of favour because of its dominating presence and susceptibility to disease.
Other plants to be warned about include Norway Maples, Purple Loosestrife, Vinca, Creeping Euonymus, and False Spirea.