Monday, May 7

Spring Green = Go

"April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go."
--Christopher Morley

I am finding the above quote to be very true this year. And since I mostly neglected my garden in April when all of the traffic lights turned green, May finds me cleaning up a few garden fender-benders.

In the first picture, you see an overeager dianthus rear-ending the twisty blue foliage of allium senescens var. glaucum. It's not that I didn't know the dianthus would spread... it's that I had planned to move these beautiful little alliums before now. I want to show off their fabulous foliage, but haven't yet figured out a good stage for them and so they remain.

The 'Sum and Substance' type hosta that I dug up at work is obviously ready to get the summer started. I didn't take a big division, but some of those leaves are already bigger than my hand.

Notice the little purplish seedlings causing a bit of a traffic jam at the base of the hosta? Those are atriplex hortensis var. rubra. And to think that I was worried it wouldn't reseed this year... good thing I didn't find another packet to buy! I think that these babies will look lovely in the bed with drumstick alliums, baptisia australis, 'Lacinato' kale and asclepias tuberosa, so I'll be moving a few of them soon.

The last mess is really the worst kind--one of my own making. I bought a little quart of lysimachia ciliata, aka fringed loosestrife, at a local Master Gardener plant sale last year. The gardener who brought it assured me that it isn't a problem in her garden at all. Frankly, I detected some attitude in her voice while she answered my questions... at one point, she kind of looked down her nose at me and said in a patronizing tone, "You surely know that this is NOT the purple loosestrife that is a problem in local wetlands, right?"

Yes, I did. I also know that I am not immune to the pull of my own foolish pride every once in a while... and so my purchase was only partly due to my weakness for purple foliage. After all, I couldn't let this woman think that I was scared of a little loosestrife, right? Right?

The loosestrife behaved very well last year and bloomed prettily in late summer. As you can see in the picture, though, the little purple rosettes are all coming up at the edge of the pot that I used to contain it. This may be my imagination, but I'm afraid that they're taking spring's green light as an okay to jump ship and escape the pot. I don't love the plant enough to live with this worry, and I can think of a number of wonderful substitutes, so it's being evicted.

Within the week, I should have these and a few other messes cleared up in the garden. Only when all is moving along smoothly again will I give myself a green light to resume planting and other, more amusing spring projects. If that's not incentive to get to work on my spring cleaning, I don't know what is!


Anonymous said...

Good luck sorting out your traffic jam. Meanwhile, I'll bet it feels good to be out in convertible weather again.

A wildlife gardener said...

Spring has sprung! Good luck with all your 'to do' list of jobs needing done. I'm ploughing my way through a long list too!

lisa said...

You have the discipline I WISH I did! It's all I can do to keep up with my new arrivals, let alone clean up and re-arrange. When I get stressed about not doing what I "should", I remind myself that this hobby is for PLEASURE only-no stress allowed...then I open a beer...attitude adjusted! :)

Susan said...

I'm loving those little seedlings peeking their noses out. I'm always on the lookout for the first sprouts of green from the stems of the various plants I have that freeze to the ground but I don't grow much from seed nor do many of my plants seed out. I think I may have to get some just to see those sprouts.

— Susan from South of the River

Unknown said...

Pam, it is nice to have this weather! If only it could rain every once in a while, though. We're getting your dry spring up here, methinks.

Wildlife Gardener, isn't that the truth? Funny that we all look forward to this time of the year when it means we're going to be so busy with lots of to do lists!

Lisa, it's not so much about discipline (I wish I was disciplined!)... it's more about not having the time to do the big projects. Since I can't dig in and make a new trellis, I concentrate on finishing small projects so I feel like I'm doing something, at least. lol.

Susan, I do the same thing! It's like going around taking inventory, and finally being able to let out your breath when the plants start to venture out of the ground. :) I like my self-seeders, but I only have a few kinds so far: bronze fennel, this ruby orach shown above, cerinthe, and verbena bonariensis.

Ki said...

Hi Kim, I would think purple loosestrife of any ilk would be trouble despite what the Mastergardener said. I've had to evict a few plants myself like the Bishop's weed I bought on sale in fall, three one gallon pots for $5.00, what a buy. Now I know why! The rhizomes are almost impossible to dig out completely like the spearmint I've been trying to get rid of for three years. And how about the nasty Korean plant they foisted on us, Houttuynia. It spread like wildfire, quickly growing in and amongst other established plants which made it so much harder to get rid of. That one was a chain reaction pileup all by itself!

You like purple? try the Japanese shiso (Perilla) purple variety. That was a huge mistake. I planted it to use as a herb along with the green variety. The green ones had a much more pungent smell and therefore more useful as a herb but did not reseed so was gone in a year. The purple one is a much more handsome plant but again I've been trying to get rid of it for three years because it self seeds so prolifically. I just got rid of some seedlings under our Bald cypress tree this spring. Gee, three years ago must have been a banner year for me for procuring noxious plants.

Sylvana said...

I planted some loosestrife in a pot in my garden about 5 years ago and the very next year it jumped ship. It hasn't gone very far though - I think it was just claustrophobic.

Gotta Garden said...

Lol, Ki! Poor you! I agree, sister gave me some of the purple perilla and it just had to go! I found seedlings in the cracks in the driveway no where near the plant (too bad mother-of-thousands is taken...that would be a good name for it!)! That would be a good post, could really help/inform a lot of folks...I think artemisia can fall in that category, too...

I'm sorry BS_G that the mg was like that...folks like that give people the wrong impression. You'd think the mgs would, of all people, not be offering questionable things! Well, I'm in a mg group and it is composed of all kinds of folks...which keeps it interesting...but does make me wonder about the screening sometimes! So, what I'm not saying very you are probably ten times more informed than that evidenced by her attitude ...'cause it's all about learning and who of us is ever done with that??

Kathy said...

I'm with Lisa. I never did learn to clean up my messes before starting a new game--er, I mean planting a new garden, plant, whatever. But I've learned my lesson the hard way. And I try to remember I do this for fun.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

It's nice to see that now you have the time to catch up on all those spring jobs that need doing. It's the season to be busy, busy, busy in the garden. The plants are growing away like mad and so do the weeds. To make matters worse, some plants behave like weeds, as you and Ki found out. ;-) We live and learn.

Happy gardening Kim!

Digital Flower Pictures said...

There are good Lysimachia and bad. Most of them are vigorous growers. I have been enjoying the little golden one a lot of places have been selling. It is an aggressive spreader, though. Loosestrife is a common name and should be used with care. Purple Loosestrife is a completely different genus and family (Lythraceae/Lythrum), then Lysimachia (which used to be in Primulaceae but has been moved to Myrsinaceae).

Karen said...

I had to get rid of my lysimachia. I too was seduced by the lovely foliage. Of course it's not the same as the purple loosestrife, but it's an out-of-control plant just the same.

meresy_g said...

I love your Sum and Substance. That is one that I have to add. It needs a lot of room though. I have one whole bed of hostas in all different forms and I need to start another one somewhere else. I am addicted to Hostas.

Unknown said...

Ki, I'm laughing and nodding in acknowledgement of your comments! I have been lucky enough to not fall prey to any of those things, but it absolutely kills me that we offer Bishop's Weed and Chameleon plant at the garden center. I warn everyone who looks at them or is thinking of a shady groundcover to stay away from them!

Sylvana, I giggled at the thought that the plant might be claustrophobic! :)

Gotta Garden, I have a few friends who are MG's and I know they aren't all like that. Shame on me for being so stubborn that I didn't walk away from the plant in the first place.

kathy, I'm with you and Lisa both, unfortunately! :)

yolanda elizabet, happy gardening to you, too!

digital flower pictures, that's what I told the MG when she asked me her imperious question... that I realized I was looking at Lysimachia and not Lythrum, but still. I have some of the yellow creeping jenny, too, but I generally keep it in containers and just put it into the ground to overwinter so I don't have to buy it again in the spring.

karen, thank you... I'm glad I'm not the only one seduced by purple foliage! :)

meresy_g, if I can send you a piece of root or something in the spring, I gladly will. I must say that I don't know for sure that this is 'Sum and Substance,' I just assume that it is because it gets the same golden hue, habit, size, etc. It's from a bed of unnamed hostas at work that was probably put in around the time that S&S was introduced, so it's a safe bet for me to call it that...

Dawn said...

I love your clever gardening/traffic metaphor. Sounds like you're enjoying all the bustle in your garden this month.

I can totally relate to back-ups in the garden. I have several plants that are patiently waiting for their spot in the dirt. I'd better get them in before it's too late.

Honk if You're Hoeing! ;-)


Digital Flower Pictures said...

I went to look at my Lysimachia ciliata after reading this and found that it was indeed running all over the place. It is the cultivar 'Firecracker' (I don't know if that makes a difference or if everyone's is 'Firecracker'). What a stubborn root mass. After corralling it I resisted planting the extras somewhere else in the garden.

David (Snappy) said...

I never heard of loosestrife, but i guess the name is revealing.If it is contained in the pot will it stay there?Or jump off like rats on shore leave, in your garden.
I hope your spring tidying, and clearing up the unexpected planting combinations.I love your hostas.They will be beautys i bet this year.Do they flower yours?
You like unusual plants.If i ever saw your shopping cart I would have to read all the plant labels to know what you have bought!

Seedling said...

Love that allium! I saw that variety this week at a perennial farm and now I'm definitely kicking myself for not buying any. I think it all looks very promising.

Annie in Austin said...

You're probably wise to keep that Lysimachia aurea nana in a container. I set mine free, and it gets into everything in spring. Down here, the summer heat and dryness kill some off, and I like that sharp green color too much to get rid of it.

I like purple too, Kim - right now it comes from Oxalis regnali but the leaves have a lot of maroon in them. I also have a tradescantia called Purple Heart. My favorite true purple foliage is just starting up - Persian shield [Strobilanthes dyerianus]. It gets pretty big in one season and would not winter over for you, but grows easily from cuttings which can spend winter on a windowsill. My cousin in Michigan found it in her area last spring.

Austin gardener Larvalbug has photos of these three plants at her site. They wouldn't be perennials, but they also wouldn't devour your garden if you were busy elsewhere!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Anonymous said...

I did love my gooseneck loosetrife, but it to would not behave, so out it came. I also have that problem with Plume Poppy, but I let it take over a bed in the back of the property, because I do enjoy it. Maybe I should have planted the gooseneck with it, and they could have duked it out!

lisa said...

I have lysimachia, both 'Fireworks', and 'Oriental Lime', and I keep them in a garden of "wanderers", along with monardas, violets, ostrich fern, tradeschantia (sp?), and daylilies. Some wildflowers, wanderers by nature, like pearly everlasting, bird's foot trefoil, also-makes for an inevitable jumble. I don't mind, everybody assimilates nicely for the most part, I intervene only occasionally...but it's not the kind of arrangement if chaos upsets you ;)

Post a Comment

One of my favorite things about blogging is the interaction--posts are often simply the beginning of an interesting conversation! So thanks for taking the time to join the discussion, and please know that I enjoy reading each and every comment left here. I try to answer as many as I can.