Plants That Bring You Joy - Or Not
Maybe it's just a case of the end of summer blues, but lately, my garden has been getting on my nerves. Failures stare me down - too much rain and cool temperatures thwarted the annuals, and perennials (used to dry conditions) looked less than stellar. I had to cut back some of them early on and now there are some big holes. After pondering these disappointments for awhile, a bigger issue became apparant, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
I must confess here - I've been putting up with a bunch of plants that just aren't cutting it, and haven't been able to bring myself to admit defeat. And then there's gardener's guilt going on in my head - if I just fed or watered it more, or staked it earlier...blah blah blah. Some are just dogs that I haven't mustered up the energy to dig out, or I've developed some unexplained, illogical emotional attachment. Many are great plants.... at least in someone elses garden. But the bottom line is, if a plant isn't happy in mine, why keep it?
There are times when you just have to put your foot down, at least if you want a better garden. I decided to make a list of the things that were bugging me.
1. Plants that never look good no matter what you do. Here's an example - Kirengeshoma, aka yellow wax bells, has been the bane of my existence for more years than I care to admit. It's one of my late summer favorites, at least when it looks good - in other peoples gardens. I've tried my best to make it happy, but mine always looks tattered and produces very few flowers. A pity, but I think I'm done with it.
2. Tall lanky plants that need too much staking. Ok, I'll admit this bed is a bit narrow for Rudbeckia 'Henry Eilers', and ditto for the Salvia 'Guaranitica' next to it. Love the crisply defined yellow petals, but this darn perennial isn't very sturdy (and yes, I did try cutting it back early in the season). Even in the back of the border in the company of other tall perennials it looks gangly. I should have planted the shorter variety, Rudbeckia 'Little Henry' in this bed.
3. Too much of a good thing. Territorial types of plants fall into this category. Take Geranium 'Biokovo' - a terrific groundcover, but it gobbles up all the space - way too much here. Time to dig some of it out or plant something else. Oh, and did I mention the Siberian Iris that only blooms for a two weeks and takes up a quarter of the bed? I could divide the thing, but is it worth the bother?
4. Floppers. Sedum 'Purple Emperor' is a relatively short perennial - about 18" high. I fell in love with its dark purple foliage and thought it would be a perfect border plant. That was until it bloomed and promptly toppled over on its side. Try as I might, I haven't found a good way to stake it. Maybe I'd like it better if I planted it behind something else to shore it up.
5. Perennials and self seeders that take over. A gardening friend gave me this Pycnantheum (mountain mint). I like the soft gray foliage, but its tenacious roots grow into all the other plants. She's still a dear friend, but my thoughts are not kind when I'm pulling it out in handfuls.
Perilla, another member of the mint family self seeds all over the place. Again, I like it, just a matter of how much I want. It would happily eat up the entire bed in no time if I didn't weed it out.
As I critique my garden I see much more going on that I don't like. Shrubs that are too big for their space or those I've just gotten tired of or never really liked that much in the first place. Problems I can't seem to solve - trees that don't thrive, shrubs with dying back foliage and branches - you get the picture right?
I tried, failed and now I'm giving up the battle. Maybe someone else can enjoy some of these things.
I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling guilty about getting rid of plants, but I've decided if it's not bringing me joy, it's outta here!