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Friday, June 15, 2012

An Embarrassment of Riches

A long time ago, a friend gave me a three-inch pot of Sundrops, a perennial with vibrant yellow blossoms to add to my garden.  Back then, I was always looking for contributions, and I loved the soft, eye-catching flowers.  

I didn’t know then that the horticultural world considers the species “aggressive.”  I prefer the word “assertive,” but however I editorialize, over the years, these plants have seeded themselves across the twenty-foot long ledge garden where I first planted them.  At the start, I was excited when they spread.  They filled in blank spaces in my adolescent patch, and trumpeted summer as they burst forth in late June.  

When subsequent generations began to compete with my Creeping Phlox, the perennial geraniums (called Bloody Cranesbill…don’t you love that name?) and my Stella d’Oro lilies, I dug them up and tucked them into other places around the yard—where they heeded the call and went forth and multiplied.  Once I ran out of room, I offered Sundrops to gardening friends…always with the warning, “You’ll love me for a few years, but after that, maybe not so much.”  The last few summers, I yanked excess Sundrops from the soil, planted them in plastic pots, and set them at the end of the driveway under sign on which I’d scribbled, “Free.” 

Now, before I go on, let me clarify that I love my Sundrops.  Unlike other invaders, they have short roots which make them easy to move—and, if you needed a picture to convey the word “happy,” or to define the perfect hue of yellow—this flower expresses both. 

However lately, I’ve realized I’m in trouble.  The Sundrops are ready to bloom.   As soon as the rain we’ve had the last few days passes, they’ll burst open.  But now they have competition.  Three years ago I went to a plant sale to support a non-profit in town.  I bought one plant (called Jacob ’s Ladder, but that’s secondary to this story).  Someone had likely dug it up from their garden, and the dirt they potted it in came with a couple of stems of Bee Balm (Monarda).  I planted my purchase, unaware that under the right conditions, Bee Balm has the same creeping tendencies as the Sundrops.  Now both species fight for space, and the ledge outside the kitchen window looks like a shaggy-haired kid, overdue for a visit to the barber.

A garden, more than many things, provides evidence of the passage of time. When we bought our house twenty years ago, none of our gardens existed.  Today, the offspring of that one little pot of Sundrops  fills four sizeable plots of earth and last weekend, I transplanted excess Bee Balm to two new locations.  

In a messy way, the yard is lovely—but all these rampant blossoms climbing over each other seems a bit—excessive.  So, as soon as the sun is out, this barber is going to climb out there with her trowel.   In truth, I love my unkempt gardens, but a few lucky folks who pass by our driveway this weekend are going to get a chance to fill up their own.





Happy Weekend to all, and to all you fathers out there, enjoy your special day! 

18 comments:

Jan Morrison said...

If you love messy gardens you'd love mine. I think the only invasive thing I might have is the forget-me-nots which are now all over and lovely in their blueness. I think I might like some of what you have. Unfortunately I will be leaving my messy garden, as soon as we have a buyer, so not sure what will happen then. I will have a flat place to garden, trees - big area but not as random and fun as this.

randi lee said...

I had that problem with bamboo...looks gorgeous but is as intrusive as you can get!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We have no garden, so your messy garden wins.
My wife tends to kill plants. I'll tell her about the sundrops.

Old Kitty said...

I am all for wild and wonderful gardens! I'm too feeble and don't have the heart to snip, dig up and trim! I do know the plant is better for it but I just can't do it! LOL!! Awwwww so happy you've established a garden all of your own! Take care
x

Arlee Bird said...

Your yard looks lovely in the photograph. I have very little yard space at my house and have looked for aggressive drought-resistant low maintenance foliage. I don't garden. I have a gardener who comes once every 2 weeks to clean up a bit. I'd be all for native plants that grow abundantly. Some might call them weeds, but some "weeds" are rather pretty.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Your garden is beautiful! Maybe I should get some Sundrops so I could have another color to my garden besides brown.

Carol Kilgore said...

Your garden is lovely, and I love that sundrop, too. Husband has the green thumb in the family, and I'm the plant killer. But I like to see them and take photos.

glnroz said...

can they take the Texas summer heat , reckon??

Robin said...

Perhaps you should add to your sign something about how difficult these plants are to kill. That way those who love the flowers, but have a tendency to kill them due to neglect, will even have a shot at a lovely garden. I bet you'd get tons of takers! Welcome Black Thumbs! Even you can have a Gorgeous Garden!!! Or something like that...

Mimi said...

Your garden looks beautiful.
I'd love that sundrop plant, it would fill lots of gaps for me, and keep my weeds at bay.
Unfortunately, it's too far to travel!

mshatch said...

damn I wish I was closer; I'd take some of those sundrops off your hands. They sound like just the thing to make my yard look more like someone was trying.

sue said...

Right now, I'd be happy for some cheery colour! It's chilly and dreary here.
I know about invasive species. When we moved here, there were young agapanthus - they're tenacious, deep rooted and aggressive (not assertive!) I'd love to plant veggies where they are, but so far haven't dug deep enough to get rid of them.
Sue

Wine and Words said...

My black thumb. I hate to tell friends how I have killed their sweet gifts to me. *sigh*. Your photos look lovely though, so imagine you have far greater nurturing skills than I!

Umā said...

This is funny, I just emerged from my own wild, overgrown gardens to cool off for a minute and catch up on blogs and see we are thinking along the same wavelength. Mine have needed dividing/cleaning up for years but part of me likes to watch the plants figure out who is going to grow where. Occasionally I do step in and settle disputes...
Happy gardening! It's going to be a beautiful weekend!

Gina Gao said...

This is a great post, with good pictures. I enjoy going over your blog.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Kittie Howard said...

I hear you, Liza. I had a problem with daisies. They took over my little garden with such aggressiveness, nothing else survived. I finally hired muscle to remove several inches of dirt, got something (can't remember what) from the nursery to neutralize the area, waited a bit, hauled in more dirt, re-planted in the spring and waited. No daisies sprouted. Thankfully! I mean, they were pretty and all, but what a mess. It was almost like they were clawing at each other.

Kittie Howard said...

Thanks, Liza. You made my day! When I see daisies, I'm like a Halloween cat, LOL!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Ooh so nice! I love a messy garden. I even asked a friend of mine if he could recommend how to change mine since it's so symmetrical and almost too perfect. I want interesting things to look at different times of the season.