Have you gone through plant or gardening phases?

aachenelf z5 Mpls
14 years ago

I suspect everyone has. For some reason a particular plant just grabs you and you start collecting them. I'm kind of surprised at how long some of these phases have lasted for me, but also equally surprised at how suddenly a particular plant just falls out of favor. It's odd.

Lilies - I know I've been in love with these for over a decade, but a couple of years ago I just didn't want any more. I also started to really evaluate the ones I had and began digging and tossing some. I still have a lot, but also don't want any more. The number of new hybrids coming out each year is kind of mind numbing.

Dahlias - Another one I grew for years and then suddenly in the midst of digging for fall storage decided to toss them all. No regrets. Still like them though.

Daylilies - Same thing happened as with the lilies.

Cannas - Went nuts over these for years and last fall decided to keep only about 1/3 of what I had. I still might toss some more. Right now I appreciate the ones with the great foliage and could care less about the flowers.

Colius - I spent years taking cutting of these each fall. I probably started close to 100 plants this way each spring. No longer. Now I stick to the ones I grow from seed each spring.

I think I feel a peony phase coming over me. I've always loved these to death, but only have about a dozen varieties. Since these have never fallen out of favor with me, this could be my next significant move. I'll see.

I'm also rediscovering the fun in growing annuals. My gardens are really kind of packed with perennials, but I always have a few open spaces to fill at the last minute. Annuals require no commitment. If you don't like something, try something else next year.

So how about you?


Comments (38)

  • blackswamp_girl
    14 years ago

    I would say that my first phase was "Mullet gardening"--business up front, party in the back. The front yard had a serious Japanese garden theme of rhodies, astilbes, junipers, hydrangeas. The backyard was an explosion of vegetables and cutting flowers. It kind of had to be this way because my ex was scandalized by the idea of lots of big, showy flowers in the frontyard.

    Since I moved into the new house I've moved from Mullet to Mixing--mixing edibles with ornamentals all around. A gardening neighbor complimented me on my "pretty front garden" last year, and was surprised when I said that I was glad that she liked my herb garden. She took another look then and recognized the sages, thymes, oreganos, etc. (I don't see that one ending anytime soon because I have such a small lot that mixing is a necessity... this is one romance that will probably last. So will waterwise gardening. And salvias. And gardening for wildlife. And using natives.)

    Oh, and I've had a few Boys of Summer flings in the past few years. I experimented first with a Thomas Hobbs/Little and Lewis theme, and then with a Piet Oudolf theme. Like any good whirlwind romance I took away just a little bit from both of those, and feel more like a better version of myself afterward.

    I think that this summer's fling just might have something to do with English gardens... or roses... or ruins. It's still just at the point of catching my eye so I can't define it correctly yet, but I did order a 'Dortmund' to scramble up my front porch and am painting an old wooden railing with an eye toward letting 'Buff Beauty' have her way with it...

  • blackswamp_girl
    14 years ago

    I only answered half of the question--oops!

    My daylily phase was early and short-lived. Once I saw them through one full growing season, their foliage earned them a kick to the curb.

    I am still going through a salvia phase. I don't much care for most of the purple annual varieties but Mainacht, Caradonna, pineapple sage, various culinary sages, etc., really get me going.

    And lavenders... I love lavender. And ornamental grasses are a staple, not just a phase anymore.

    I went through an anti-annuals phase until I discovered winter sowing and discovered things that were so much more interesting than the flats of impatiens you usually see. Huge amaranths, verbena bonariensis, cerinthe, atriplex hortensis... :)

    Oh, and last year I was enamored of my Swiss chard. This year I'm going to try 'Lacinato' kale instead, though, just to branch out.

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  • gottagarden
    14 years ago

    A kindred spirit!

    The iris stage - I visited iris farms and had the most gorgeous spring display. But they need frequent dividing, and get ratty looking foliage shortly after bloom. Short bloom period is what has turned down the enthusiasm.

    The dahlia stage - So smitten with them I couldn't believe everyone didn't have at least 10 different varieties. Then I moved out of California and had to dig them up every year. And they don't all overwinter in the cellar so I keep losing favorites. I'm down to the hardy ones that overwinter well.

    Daffodils - kind of like pokemon cards, you gotta have them all. Every year I would buy lots of different varieties, you could always get a nice little bag for just $5. I probably had almost 100 kinds. Then I moved. And they stayed in the ground. Now, daffodils all look a bit samey.

    Coleus - used to take at least 3 cuttings of every kind I had, and I kept getting more every year. Now I just overwinter 3 different kinds that I really love.

    Daylilies - like iris, visiting all those farms with 300 varieties . . .

    Lilies - well I'm in that phase now. I love 'em.

    Peonies - yep, I'm heading into that phase. This past summer I made a HUGE 100 foot by 5 foot peony bed along the driveway. I had to move them out of my other beds because they were crowding everything. Only have about 10 kinds now, but I suspect that is going to change.

    But I'm progressing. It's not just plant phases, now it's color themes. The red bed, the purple bed, the oranges and yellows. . . .

  • purpledaisy
    14 years ago

    Hey Kevin,
    Oh that makes me feel a lot less guilty.
    I have done daylilies first normal ones then spiders.
    I did frangipanis (plumerias) sort of lost it when they all rotted or got eaten by the new dog.
    Bromeliads (the puppy loved them, husband hated them.)
    Still having a sort of canna stage but calmed a lot. Have kept the ones I like and tossed the others.
    Love Piet Oudolf, Beth Chatto and going strong into perennials plantings and have a few grasses. I'm running out of room so I think twice now.
    Starting to like euphorbias, have three so far.
    Oh and last winter I did old fashioned roses.
    I did have a summer bulb thing for a while too, have lots of crinum (that never flower) some belladonna (never flower), papilio hippeastrum (you guessed it :-)).
    Now I'm left with too many plants in too small a space so my new years resolution is to propagate some extras of things and put a group of three at least together to try and get some cohesion.
    Speaking of inspiration though I just love Gottagarden's Red Bed, I already had a hot bed with oranges and maroon foliage joining up together but her photos of that red bed have me looking for more in that darker colour...
    p.s. it's nice to be in company that understands my plant addiction!!

  • geoforce
    14 years ago

    Started with Iris outside and Orchids inside, had about 500 of each. Tossed all of both.

    Moved on to Daylilies (800) and Dahlias (50) outside, nothing inside. Still have the daylilies, but the deer get all the flowers, I junked the dahlias.

    Started Epimediums (50)outside and African Violets (100)inside. Have discarded the violets.

    Have recent started on Hellebores (40 + many seedlings) and more recently hardy aroids (20 or so) Have no ongoing indoor passion at present.

    The above phases have stretched over about 35 years in total.


  • marcia_m
    14 years ago

    I don't post here often but usually 'tune in' to get a daily dose of gardening talk, especially during our long winters.

    I started with old garden roses about 6 years ago--love their fragrance. I planted at least 30 or more. I stopped adding roses to my gardens 3 years ago when rose rosette disease made an appearance in my yard. I still have several varieties and I look forward to their show and fragrance every spring.

    I had a little fling with iris, but iris borers are yucky and the smell of rotting rhizomes is not pleasant. I still have a few and plant a few I get from the box stores when I come across something that looks interesting.

    I love clematis and planted about 50. The voles and chipmunks have been destroying their roots, but I will probably still plant a few new ones if I see some I don't have. But I'm not ordering enmasse anymore.

    Two years ago I started wintersowing and planted hundreds of seedlings of various perennials--many varieties of columbine and oriental poppies--as well as annuals not usually available at the local nurseries. I had a glut of seedlings and it was a chore to plant them during the spring and summer. I didn't wintersow anything this winter.

    Last year I went nuts and ordered over a hundred daylilies, mostly from a daylily auction site. What was I thinking? I had to dig so many holes and created two new beds. I'm not sure what to expect from them this spring. But I'm not planning to buy any more.

    I am now into a shrub/tree stage. I planted lilacs, mockorange, fragrant viburnum, a weeping cherry tree, and I want to add mountain laurel, rhododendron, holly and some other evergreen shrubs for color in the garden during winter.

    Speaking of indoor plants, what do you do when you retire and want to travel (like wintering in the south) but have indoor plants? I'm thinking of giving them away, or tossing if I can't find them homes.

    Change is a good thing! And it keeps one from getting bored.

  • tiffy_z5_6_can
    14 years ago

    Used to grow roses when I,lived in the city. Dahlias too. Moving into deer country has changed that and now I garden for the butterflies - mainly Monarchs which have discovered our gardens in the last couple of years. Last year we even had baby cats (caterpillars) which we brought to the butterfly stage. We noticed the birds going at them so brought them into the house, made a natural habitat for them, fed them asclepsias every day, and watched them 'crytalize'. One day we got home and we had three beautiful Monarchs ready to try out their wings. They did a superb job when we let them go. Probably the most rewarding thing I've ever done in gardening.

    I think I'll stay in this stage for a while and add to the 5 Buddleias and 12 Asclepsias that I have.

  • kydaylilylady
    14 years ago

    I guess I'm still in the "phase" of daylilies and have been for over 15 years. I've gone from a yard full to a "field" full. This past fall when I was updating the excel sheet for the website there was over 1200 cultivars. I still add other plants but usually buy between 25-50 newer daylilies each year.


  • aachenelf z5 Mpls
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    purpledaisy - don't give up on the papilio hippeastrum if you already haven't. It takes a few years to bloom, but once it does the time and effort are well worth it. I almost tossed mine, but didn't and now it's in a 12 inch pot. When it blooms (shortly), it's unlike any other amaryllis. I forgot to mention the amaryllis phase. Had about 40 of them and now I'm down to that one only.

    The iris phase is another one I forgot to mention. I finally realized I really only liked the dwarfs and the historical. I still have a few of the giant hybrids, but not many.

    I think my orchid phase is going to be with me until time stops, although that's an ongoing process. I keep evaluating what I have, what no longer thrills me and what I want to try next. I don't think any other plant means as much to me as those guys.


  • tjsangel
    14 years ago

    I wouldnt call what I get into "phases." I'm always getting into growing new plants, trying different ones and getting rid of those that dont do it for me. Some of my favorites are roses-any kind-daylilies, liatris, ornamental grasses, bulbs (Tulips, daffodils, crocus) daisy flowers, Astilbe, evergreens, Sedum, Lobelia, Oriental lilies, Coreopsis, Baptisia and various groundcovers. Also a fan of Hosta. Some that have failed me are purple coneflowers, Asiatic lilies (slug wars!) Toad lilies, a red Coreopsis and almost anything that loves really dry soil, because I tend to overwater at times.


  • thistle5
    14 years ago

    Yes, guess I've had phases, too-depending on the house/yard I'm in (mostly temporary). This place is our first 'almost-temporary' house-it had lots of daylilies, out in the back, under maple trees. I moved them up front, love them for their dependibility (& especially purple/lav-Catherine Woodbury, Raspberry Pixie). I've had flings w/ hellebores, geraniums, epimediums, kind of tropical plants-musa, cannas, elephant ears, coleus, lantana...I'd like to be more committed to a 'plan', but haven't found it yet...

  • crocosmia_mn
    14 years ago

    A new gardener, so not too many phases yet!

    Phase 1 --- 1987-2002 After buying our first (and only) house which had a small garden with ancient pink peonies, daisies, campanula, etc. (don't even like pink, white, or blue, but I left them all in place) I bought and stuck in plants, mostly natives, from the Farmers Market. Didn't give it much thought.

    Phase 2 --- 2002-2003 Saw a big hybrid red and yellow columbine and suddenly realized that I could make a garden in my favorite colors. Bought red and yellow daylilies, then every red, yellow or violet plant I could find. Got every garden book out of the library.

    Phase 3 --- 2003-2004 Much digging up of the front and back yards to make room. Now my color is ORANGE, with scarlet, mahogany, "black," and a little violet. Love crocosmias and heleniums.

    Phase 4 --- 2004 Went on a self-designed garden tour of England to see gardens with hot colors. Returned with a passion for tropical-style plants like cannas, dahlias, bananas, castor beans, colocasias, etc.

    Phase 5 --- 2004 - present More digging up of yard, more flower beds. Pulled out almost all natives, most yellow flowers. Joined garden club, volunteer increasingly for giant local plant sale (Friends School plant Sale), give slideshow garden talks, actually BUY many garden books, take over a whole room in the house plus parts of two other rooms for garden activities (such as refrigerators for keeping crocosmias and dahlias over the winter). Planning a whole new garden trip to England this summer, bought a new camera so I could take better photos this time. Still basing color scheme around orange, which here in Minnesota means more annuals and tender perennials.

    That's all so far! I live in fear that some kind of more sophisticated, peaceful sanctuary, minimalist, foliage-only phase will suddenly overcome me. I hope not soon, because I am having way too much fun now.

  • david_5311
    14 years ago

    I bet all serious gardeners have. Some of my phases and a couple of comments about them, they are more or less in order from beginning to now. Most of them have been left with a "residual", that is, I have selected favorite plants that are still part of my garden, but the "crest" of the phase has in some cases passed.

    1. general perennials -- still there obviously, but tempered with other plants
    2. ornamental grasses -- way back 20 years ago when they were first becoming known. The end of that phase was PAINFUL -- digging out mature grasses which had taken up too much space in the garden, rooted way down into the clay subsoil, was one of the biggest jobs I ever went through
    3. The pink phase
    4. The "anti-pink" phase -- like waking up one spring and realizing that you have too much pepto-bismol in your garden. Bring on the blues, yellows, and oranges!
    5. Hardy roses. I never grew HTs or grandifloras, knew better. Roses are still an important part of my garden.
    6. The geranium phase, actually started way back near the beginning, I will probably have fewer geraniums in my new garden, but they are still among my favorite perennials
    7. The clematis phase -- still ongoing. Starting to really grow clematis, especially on obelisks, and seeing what they do for long seasonal interest and adding the vertical dimension, was probably the most important thing I ever did to make me a better gardener and to develop a sense of garden 'style'.
    8. The "woodies" phase. Still ongoing. I have realized that the gardens I like best have lots of trees and shrubs mixed with herbaceous plants and climbers. Now I have the space to plant them!
    9. The woodland garden phase. Now that I have a woodland which I can really work with, the prospect of having a real shade woodland garden excites me more than anything.

    Also in there somewhere are hellebore and epimedium phases. Still love and collect them. But NO more than 5 epimediums per year from Darrell Probst, that is now my limit. Just bought a bunch of hellebores from Pine Knot nursery.

  • kelly_cassidy
    14 years ago

    Hmm. Most of the responses have been about plant species groups. I think of gardening phases more broadly:

    Phase 1 (for the first 15 years or so of sporadic gardening): Scorned planting anything ornamental. If you couldn't eat it, why waste time on it?

    Phase 2: Bought a trailer to live in during grad school. Had an extremely shady yard. Reluctantly realized veggies were out. Planted a few pansies and impatiens. LOVED them. Bonus: They never produced mounds of unwanted squash.

    Phase 3: The newbie impatient phase. Wanted stuff that flowered in year one. That meant mostly annuals. Barren garden beds in spring.

    Phase 4: Stuck a few perennials in. Most croaked. Some thrived. Became gorgeous. Didn't have to be replanted every year. Once established, needed little weeding. Soon, had little room for annuals.

    Phase 5: Woody plants. Started with shrubs, initially looking at things that flower within a few years. Even less weeding that perennials. More three-D.

    Phase 6: Trees. Well into this phase, now. Don't care if I ever see them mature. I plant most as year-old seedings. Perennials and wimpy cultiviate plants located near house for pampering. But most of yard now devoted to native trees, shrubs, and forbs that will eventually take care of themselves.

    Phase 7: Hardscape. In the early stages of this phase. I think more and more about foot bridges, walkways, garden shelters, etc. Mostly in the planning stage, as I get paralyzed by the permanence of the installation.

    Kelly C.

  • yeonasky
    14 years ago

    First it was the any plant that she or he has phase. That was quickly nixed by the it will outgrow your country info. Thank goodness for the Internet and GW.

    Phase 2 was the small evergreen anything not invasive phase.

    Then the bigger shrubs.

    Now that I've got structure, I'm in the perennials and clematis phase, but the tree phase is lurking in the summer of 2007, just waiting to pounce and steal my heart. I'm a fickle gardener, I guess.


  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa
    14 years ago

    I don't feel so obsessive anymore, thanks!
    Back when I was going through the phases I felt kind of fickle as I went from one plant group to another (not that it stopped me)but now I feel almost average.

    In years past: bearded iris, spring bulbs, dahlias, daylilies, hostas, bananas.... the usual

    Now I am very much into a designed garden. I'm going kind of English with color schemes, rigid layout and clipped hedges... all that I need to do is the actual physical labor of trimming, digging and planting! (and show the restraint needed for a strict color palette)

    Current plant obssesions are: historic iris, border phlox, daffodils, hellebores and fragrant plants in general. But don't get me wrong, I'm still dabbling in the clematis, hostas and cannas.

    I've already started looking ahead a few years. I've penciled in a snowdrop addiction and a orienpet lily phase. If I had the room I'd jump right into magnolias and witchhazels.... if I had the money I'd try tree peonies.

    I thought as I got older I'd show a bit more restraint and sophistication, but the truth is I've been eyeing dinnerplate dahlias and annuals like salvias and zinnias. Maybe it's just the snow.

  • aachenelf z5 Mpls
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    This is very interesting. Thanks for the replies.

    As I've read through all the responses, I realized I left out a lot of my mini phases. Clematis being one of the current ones.
    I must say, I really have no regrets about any of them since I've learned so much from each and some phases even lead to the next one. Example: Cannas to bananas to elephant ear types to amorphophallus. It does make me wonder what the garden will finally end up looking like.


  • gottagarden
    14 years ago

    Yeah, I've left out some of my mini-phases as well.

    Clematis - 2 years ago I started buying clematis, now have about 15 different varieties, suspect that is just a start. LOVE them!

    hardy geraniums is another - only about 10 kinds now, but they're such wonderful fillers!

    Roses - never did them, afraid to start, knowing it could be a real commitment

    Trees - I'm bad here. Have lots of land and wonder if this place will look like an arboretum in a few decades. Trouble is trees tend to be pricy, much worse than iris or hosta.

    George in PA - next time you outgrow a phase, call me for your leftover plants!!

    Kevin, I've enjoyed this thread, it's fun to see others have gone through similar phases.

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa
    14 years ago

    I must be right behind you Kevin. I did the cannas, bananas and now elephant ears. I'm not warming up to amorphophallus though. I did the common voodoo lily but that's it.
    I was eyeing the cannas again this winter. Maybe I need to try that again, there were quite a few I didn't grow last time around....

  • denisez10
    14 years ago

    The phases I've been through relate more to how to reconcile the elusive garden of my imagination with what I've got to work with, finding the "genus loci," or like the real estate mantra, coming to terms with location, location, location, in all senses, climate, culture, and (sigh) economics.

    Looking for inspiration, like most gardeners, from English garden books, really the only garden literature available when I started 20 years ago, I thought perennials were the answer. Not in Zone 10, not the complete answer anyway. If I couldn't get color from perennials, then mixing lots of roses among the perennials must be the answer. Lovely result but shapeless, requiring lots of water and fertilzer, long and ugly downtime, and not really the kind of work I wanted to do in the garden. I've discovered not to underestimate the importance of the kinds of work your garden requires you to do to.

    So rather than make the garden and hardscape fit shapeless plants, I chucked most of them, and took a hard look at the garden without them. There was my beautiful Agave medio-picta in its pot, as ever, now about 4 feet across, congested with pups, dead leaves. I cleaned him up, gave him the pride of place he deserved, and followed his lead, bringing in more pots, more spiky stuff, all the gloriously exotic and tender stuff that my zone supports. Rediscovered salvias, the smaller indispensable S. microphylla, managed to find lilies that like me (regale). I move pots around the sitting areas constantly, using broken concrete as plinths to bring height.

    I've discovered the garden is most engrossing to me when it allows me to play with issues of proportion and scale, but without sacrificing the blast of color I crave. I pay more attention to how people will fit in these spaces. Past jungles I've created have intimidated a few nongardeners, so I try to keep the scale of planting in proportion. I think of my small garden more as an outdoor conservatory now, probably overwrought and overdone, like the 19th century Victorian plant hunters, but it's always exciting to wake up to and putter in. This direction feels more on track to discovering the "genus loci."

  • threeorangeboys
    14 years ago

    Oh my Gosh. When you guys chuck out your plants, can you call me and I'll come get them????
    gottagarden . . . How BIG is your garden that you have room for such a huge peony border, your gorgeous red garden?

    Wow! Can't imagine. I have a little city garden, so I just drool over all the space you guys have !!

  • nancyd
    14 years ago

    I think we all go through phases, although I'm not ready to give up on dahlias. If I have to start with new ones each year, I'll do so. They are absolutely gorgeous with little care. I think I was feeling a little so-so about lilies like Kevin, so I moved them all into one bed. I love the orientals and their fragrance on a hot summer night. I got rid of the other ones and now plant strictly oriental lilies. I got hit with the red lily leaf beetle this summer and they are much easier to treat now that they're in one place.

    I got a little bored with perennial gardening altogether I must say. But after we installed our pond, I found a fun new hobby - water plants and water gardening. Now I can go to the store and say I need new plants...and really mean it! It's opened up a whole new world for me. Not only planting within the pond, but around it as well has presented some new challenges. My old way of perennial gardening wasn't cutting it. Ponds demand a more naturalistic look. So this year it's back to the drawing board (or nursery!). I find myself drawn to ferny, grassy and foliage plants now. It's fun to experiment with things I'm not so familiar with.

  • kathwhit
    14 years ago

    I have enjoyed reading about all your "phases". I have certainly done my share. First was annuals and a few perennials. Then I bought two roses. That started my rose addiction. I now have 42. Then I got more perennials to go under and around the roses. Then clematis to wind through the roses. Then plants for shady spots where roses wouldn't grow, like hosta, bleeding hearts, astibe. Then started growing peonies and fushias. Currently my beds are a mishmosh of color and style. I just love them. They are never quite finished, and never will be. But my most long lasting love is still roses.

  • vegangirl
    14 years ago

    I wouldn't call mine phases either:) They are all on-going!

    Daffodils-my favorite spring flower. I have many and want more I guess I did go through a tulip phase but that didn't last long. Lovely things but I want plants that multiply.

    Daylilies-favorite summer flower. I have over 500 varieties

    Spring woodland flowers and woodland ferns- my all time favorite plant category. Ii would spend every waking moment in my woodland, playing, if I could. I love the trilliums, hepaticas, phacelias, asarums, lady's slippers, etc.

    Berried shrubs that attract birds

    Hostas- just getting into these but they go nicely with my woodland plants

    Other plants I'm getting into:

    Alpine/rock gardening
    Japanese iris, Louisiana iris
    Hardy geraniums
    and any others that compliment my woodland and streamside.

    We grow vegetables, herbs and fruits of necessity. We need them to eat.

  • deeje
    14 years ago

    I went through a clematis phase in my last garden; you couldn't go ten feet without encountering one. On trellises, winding through shrub roses, trained up trees... they were everywhere.

    I still like clematis, but have only two varieties in my current garden. It seems that geraniums are taking their place; I have too many varieties to recall.

    I don't know whether the geraniums are a "phase" though. I think it's more a "hey, here's something the rabbits don't eat!" solution.

  • entling
    14 years ago

    At my last house I did the daylily, tulip, bearded iris thing. Here, I finally kicked the daylily and bearded iris habit. But now, I fear I'm headed for a siberian iris phase. I went through a serious aster phase, now I've stopped collecting and I'll just keep what I've got. I'm totally lost in variegated columbine phase. Were money and space no object, I would be a serious collector of epimediums, hellebores and tree peonies. Which brings me to my latest phase, woodies, particularly those with colored foliage. (Which is a good thing, as one must exercise extreme restraint when dealing with foliage color.) Oh yes, and verticals/climbers.
    As far as gardenstyle, I was on a big perennial kick, then onto the mixed border, but now it's all about structure. IMHO gardening is about going through phases. The garden itself isn't static, why should our tastes/passions be?

  • belle_michele
    14 years ago

    And here I thought it was only me......

    With the weather being so brutal here, I've kept all my 'phases' because I'm so impressed/grateful for any plant that can survive the frigid winters and often scorching summers here.

    At first I focussed only on my fenced in back yard...now I am moving into my front yard-which is a challenge due to a constant battle with rabbits.

    I have a terrible tendency to order all kinds of things in the dead of winter and then come spring, I'm faced with boxes and boxes of plants and hours and hours of planting ahead of me.

    ROSES-my first and favorite, my only requirement is that it be hardy and fragrant, so I have a lot of rugosas, shrub and antique. As packed as my garden is, I always manage to find a place to add at least one new rose every year.

    Irises-this was a short lived mania. I still have my irises but don't buy any more with the exception of japanese and siberian irises.

    Lilys-Last years phase, planted them all over the place. I love them when they're in bloom, most are soooo FRAGRANT! However, when they're done blooming they look so ratty.

    Peonys-ongoing love affair... Like roses, I manage to find a place to squeeze in at least one or two a year.

    Daylilies-at first went in for the 'fancy' varieties, now I'm leaning toward the old fashioned 'ditch' lilies and kwanso -hardy, bloom like mad, and can take care of themselves.

    Dwarf Fruit Trees- people are amazed at how many different fruit trees I have in my back yard, and how MUCH fruit they produce! I have several different apples, two peach trees, three pear trees, two nectarine trees, two mullbery trees, three apricot trees and two plum trees...not to mention several gooseberry bushes and hardy grape and kiwi vines. I also have fig trees and banana plants that spend the summers outside and the winters inside.

    This year it's daisys and clematis...

  • ohgirl
    13 years ago

    my thing is hostas. i love them. the best time for viewing is when they all emerge in the spring after that the other plants pretty much take over. but i have been planting moonflowers and morning glories with a vengeance for the last 15 years.......must be someting in the vater.lol

  • mmqchdygg
    13 years ago

    I'm a relatively new gardener, but trying to catch up for 40-years of non-gardening...so the last 3 years has found me doing:
    Daylilies- in earnest '06/'07
    Just moving into Iris now
    Peonies...haven't started this phase, but it's lurking in the background.
    Annuals- that's going to be next year's phase...cuz I found this year that I REALLY like them
    Sub-Annual Category: Zinnias!
    Coleus phase this year...not sure it'll last unless I can find a better way to use & enjoy them than just plopping them into a rarely-seen space. But I do love them
    Nasturtiums came & went this year
    The marigold phase is constantly morphing since I use many of a single variety each season, so next year it'll have a new face.
    Containers this year. I have many, but it's totally not working for me. I need to re-evaluate this one since I'm not diligent about watering, and plants suffer from my negligence.

  • covella
    13 years ago

    I had a small succulent phase with over 500 species, then a dwarf fern phase growing from spores. All indoors and all gone now. I now have 2 houseplants - an Apidistra in a bathroom and a variegated fig rescued from the office.

    If I had to identify phases, I'd say it was moving from a bedazzled collection phase to a design phase, not so much collection of species anymore. Not claiming to be any good at design, but I'm trying.

    For a long time everything that grew was attractive to me. I bought 1 or 3 of everything. Got catalogs in the mail and drove to Bluestone for their annual June sale. Took cuttings everywhere I went. Couldn't throw out a living plant. Finally matured to the point of understanding editing was needed - like subtracting 100 mature trees overcrowding us and this fall - a 25 yo weeping mulberry will bite the dust along with the overpruned hemlocks around it.

    Had a hosta phase, a good useful plant but no more thanks

    A lily phase, now have quite enough and this has been the best year ever for them and I'm pretty much unmoved and thinking its now too much of a good thing.

    A dahlia phase - the thing that keeps dahlias good for me is that I have to wait to see them take their turn in the garden. I think it was you Kevin that talked about peony time, how we look forward to it and how we wouldn't want it to stretch on forever just because its so special, it should be treasured and then over. Same for me and dahlias. I don't save them anymore either. This also has probably kept them in positive light.

    There were small phases in epimediums, daisy shapes, buddleia, woodland plants, fruiting shrubs and trees.

    The biggest phase change has been converting from plant collector to trying to put together an overall pleasing effect. I'm trying to go from Collection Cacophony to 4 Season Harmony. I've spent a couple years on bloom succession. Definitely still a work in progress.

    I already know my next phase is Maintenance Reduction and Removal of Shrubs that never should have been put there to begin with. I think I'm going to be rather bold about this.

    4 plants I find repeatable all over the property are Carex Evergold, red or white nicotiana reseeding in place, Jacob Kline red monarda and Helleborus orientalis.

    The phases of gardening have been humbling for me, I think there have been life lessons in them. Mostly about figuring out what really matters and not sweating the small stuff.

  • aachenelf z5 Mpls
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    "The phases of gardening have been humbling for me, I think there have been life lessons in them. Mostly about figuring out what really matters and not sweating the small stuff."

    Wonderful statement! I couldn't agree with you more. I really have no regrets about any of the phases I've been through since it's not just about growing and having plants, it's about learning. All the experiences, successes, failures have been invaluable. You mentioned peonies and I keep thinking about these. I think I can safely say these will be with me always and it's nice to find a plant that will have a permanent place in my life. There's something kind of spiritual in there, but I'm at a loss of words to express it right now.


  • nwnatural
    13 years ago

    I was getting sick of the squirrels taking my tulips. I traded those for daffodils.

    It's kinda funny (being on this forum), but I've grown a little weary of perennials! I just can't find the time anymore and I'm getting sucked into flowering shrubs.

    I did give up my Delphiniums, a huge collection that I started from seed indoors each winter. Replaced with Lavenders! What can I say.

    And when I used to hate Sedum, I can't get enough of them now.

  • mmqchdygg
    13 years ago

    nw- Good trade! (squirrels for Daffs)
    Who'd you sucker into taking them?

  • nwnatural
    13 years ago

    Well, the tulips all sort-of disappeared. Although I did notice random tulip blossoms in just about every yard in the neighborhood.

  • aachenelf z5 Mpls
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    That's too funny!

  • prairie_love
    13 years ago

    I'm mostly a lurker, but had to add to this because it struck a chord with me. I was thinking the same thing recently, although not in the same defined terms.

    Someone mentioned pinks/not pinks - I am the exact opposite - up until last year I was NO PINKS! Then, accidently, I had several early spring pinks- crabapples, double flowering plum, bergenia, lavendar tulips, - now I am a huge fan of early spring pinks and lavendars!

    But, the biggest shift I am seeing in myself recently is more generic. About 10 years ago I had to have every new introduction and every spiffy color variation introduced. Then, about five years ago I was certain that everything had to be "native". I have now decided that the new introductions often are not reliable, that (in my climate) the really unusual plants will often not survive, and that the natives are a little more "wild" looking than I want close to the house. I am actually moving toward a more "boring" scheme of the tried and true perennials - irises, daylilies, salvias, penstemons, rudbeckias, ones that I know will survive, will look good all season, and will not outgrown their boundaries.

    That said, I am still a huge believer in natives and I have a couple of beds dedicated to native plantings. They are just not close to the house (I have the luxury of 20 acres to spread my gardens around).

    Thanks for the interesting thread.

    And, I do like the idea of trading squirrels for daffodils. Do you think that I could trade raccoons for irises?

  • gardenfullofswallowtails
    5 years ago

    I've gone through several plants that I thought were a good idea....then just after a few years look boring or they didn't perform the way I wanted them to. I planted Autumn Joy sedums and now I'm bored of them. I usually give my plants to my neighbor or friends. Thinking of replacing the Little Princess spirea too. I want to put a few gas plants plants in there.