Some Plants Won't Leave

I have a small garden and can be a very fickle gardener.  One year I love a plant, and the next season, I’ve found a plant I like much better.  Or sometimes a plant just gets too big for my garden.   When that happens, I take the spade by the handle and do the dirty deed.

The trouble with this process is that I am usually in a hurry to plant my new found treasure and some plants don’t give up easily.  In my haste to make room for a newcomer, I suppose I am not thorough enough. Either that or the plant I’ve chosen to discard does not want to leave. So in my garden I have some very nice new plants and some very persistent old ones.

Probably the most stubborn of all the plants I’ve ever decided to discard is Macleaya cordata, Plume Poppy.  I was so excited the first year when it reached its potential of 8 feet.  The second year I was still amazed.  By the third year, when it has spread to 15 stalks, I was a little less impressed.  In my small garden, the Plume Poppy was decidedly out of scale and selfishly took more space that I was willing to allow.  So….. I decided that the Plume Poppy must go.  That was 3 years ago.  Just today I was digging out new Plume Poppy clumps.  It returns to my garden each year and, I regret to say, to my neighbour’s garden also.  The Macleaya cordata is here to stay.

And right up there with the shear stubbornness of the Plume Poppy is the Campsis radicans, Trumpet Creeper.  I planted it and waited four years for a bloom … totally unaware of the root system this hooligan was developing while I was waiting.  It finally bloomed and grew and grew and grew!  Unfortunately it had to go.   I cut all the top growth and attempted to dig out the root.  By now you will have guessed that my attempt failed.  This wretched beast fooled me by sneakily gathering strength in the back of my neighbour’s lot.   My neighbour, like me before him, thought it was kind of nice and let it grow. From the back of my neighbours lot, the Trumpet Creeper began its insidious attacks on my garden. I find trumpet vine emerging in my garden 10 or 12 feet away from its main stem.  Once it worked its way under ground for about 8 feet and then straight up 4 feet into a raised bed.  Campsis radicans is determined to stay in my garden!

Nothing compares to those two plants for persistence but I have had other plants that have returned to curse me.  So that you can protect yourself, here are three more hooligans in the garden:  Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant), Acanthis mollis, and  Kalimeris pinnatifida – a chrysanthemum-like plant with tiny white flowers that was most well behaved for the first couple of years. 

I am older and wiser now.  I read labels and research plants before I buy them (well, most of the time).  And when I read “vigorous” on the label of a plant, I walk away! …. That is unless I really must have it.