While picking up perennials the other day, I overheard a greenhouse worker say, “I would never have planted that if I had known.” She was talking about spiderwort, tradescantia, which a customer of mine had just purchased in quantity. It’s a beautiful plant and has its place in some of the finest gardens. At Ladew Gardens in Monkton, Md. it is planted in a huge circle with ‘Caesar’s Brother’ siberian iris and ‘May Night’ salvia. It is a startling ring of electric blue for at least a month coinciding with the soft pink of the rose garden. Well worth the visit. However, it is a spreader, popping up in the driveway and invading flower beds. I have many varieties and I dig up the volunteers and give them away which is how I got my first piece of it.
The flower I wish I had never planted is summer phlox which is going to blanket all my flower beds if left unchecked and last time I checked it is everywhere. As a gardener, I know I can remove it from some places but unlikely to remove it entirely. So I live with it and love its blooms and fragrance. I’ve given up on the mildew it gets. There are resistant varieties now, but too late for my garden. You can try spraying the mildewed foliage with diluted milk as a remedy; I have too much to do this.
Another plant I would avoid now is vinca major, unless that were the only thing I had besides big trees which it does surround nicely. The variegated form does not stay variegated so the nice white edge which brightens up the dark corner is no longer bright. It climbs into any shrub, looking great at first with its large blue blooms until it climbs high into the shrub bringing it down as effectively as a bulldozer. Many of my azaleas must be cleared of it which is a daunting task.
The tiny lime green sedum I took from the pathway where it had spilled out of a planter is another invader. While it looks wonderful creeping into the dark purple leaf ajuga, it is now in all my pathways. Luckily it is easily ripped out but it will get everywhere eventually as the smallest piece will restart the colony. I’m always surprised to find where it comes up next.
And I wish I had never added a common purple blooming hosta, variety unknown. I brought it back from my sister’s garden ignoring the warning that it is not the one I want. It took over nicely, filling in a shady bed. But it is crowding out the other hostas, replacing the fragrant standard and even pushing around the big Blue Angel. It is hard to remove until it blooms and I can be sure which one I am tossing.
At the checkout of the perennial nursery, I had added a pot of purple leafed salvia when, again, a worker noted that she was constantly removing that from her garden. For once I had the sense to think twice and leave it. The next time I mowed my lower field, I noticed a lovely purple weed with a spike of lavender flowers and on closer inspection, found that it is the purple leafed salvia I had almost purchased. It is either wild or someone planted it years ago. Pretty, but not a good choice for the border.