Love Hate

Heavy sigh, the battle of invasive plants. Much of my gardening knowledge comes from experience, and I have had my share of experiencing invasive plants. When we moved to our current property, there were no cared for gardens, just one weed bed with aged, gnarly junipers, and one bed with tiger lilies, phlox and perennial sunflowers. Both of the beds were infiltrated with the renowned invasive goutweed (also called bishop’s goutweed or aegopodium). There was also innocent looking, sweet violets growing here and there in the lawn. More than 10 yrs later, despite digging out goutweed with a backhoe, I still find patches. And I pull hundreds of violets from precious garden real estate every year…but after they bloom, because I have to admit still loving the sweet purple blossoms, and I have freckled violets that are pale mauve with deeper mauve speckles – so lovely in spring! Yes, invasives are a love/hate relationship. Invasives can have a purpose – they are splendid to fill tough growing areas like a side hill or alley between houses, but the area needs to be completely contained, and not connected to any other garden beds. I have one contained bed with yellow creeping jenny that is stellar when blooming in late spring. This is not a definitive list, but in my experience, always pay utmost concern to mints, some grasses (ie. ribbon grass, before you buy a grass, ask if it is invasive), some artemisia, plume poppies, cotoneaster, lily of the valley, violets and creeping jenny. Some perennials are meant for part shade or poor soil, and can get rampant when they have more sun or richer soil (ie. lamium, evening primrose or rudbeckia can be aggressive spreaders). If the plant name includes ‘weed’ (ie. gout weed), or the comments include ‘spreads by rhizomes’, then be careful.

Posted on February 15, 2014 and filed under Guidance.