WS mistakes you admit to making

August 6, 2011

As I come in from a few hours of working outside and the sweat was burning my eyes, I had to come in. Been out there a couple of hours. Trying to remove the dried brown leaves of the Westerplatte clematis and it is a tangled mess to even get to them. We've put the soaker hoses on 3 flowerbeds so far. I cut back the liatris in one bed, and some of the coneflowers. Pulled up one plant that I rec'd in WS swap that said it was a monarda. It's had the same buds on it since early spring and it still hadn't bloomed yet. To me it almost looks like poke berry weed but don't see any berries, so that got pulled up and went into yard waste bag. I will pay more attention to the height of the plant when it is time to plant into the flowerbeds. Concentrate on reseeding plants and drought tolerate as well as deer resistant. Stick with my original goal to WS. I've said this before and I really mean it in 2012. I don't care how enticing the catalogs are. In fact, I think I'll ask to be removed from a lot of mailing list..reduce paper clutter. Use the internet sites to order if I chose.

Let's hear about some of your mistakes. Sure everybody has at least one or two.

Comments (18)

  • gardenweed_z6a

    WS monarda/bee balm my first year and am digging it all out my second. It's taller than I am--I thought it only grew to about 36" tall. Plus, instead of it blooming red, it bloomed a washed out, pale lavender. Bleh. Since everything I grow is for the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, there's plenty of other stuff to attract them that's better looking and shorter.

    I shovel-pruned pink evening primrose and planted a hardy geranium in its place. The EP seeds caught my eye back when I first found out about WS but that was before I read how they spread. Yes, they're easy to yank; no, I don't have time.

    I'll be interested in hearing more about your plan to stick to your WS plan and not sow more than you originally intended. Fiction's always been my favorite genre...

  • pippi21

    Eileen, I have a plan in my head how I think I should handle WS in 2012. I need to write the plan out once I finalize it. I will order my seeds from Crosman's as before and use up what I have left over from 2010..I will only WS what I really want in my garden. You're going to be one of my WS police. I just appointed you head of WS Security! I'm even going to send emails to all these seed catalogs and tell them to remove me from their mailing list. I can always look at their website and order that way if I want. I need to reduce paper clutter. I know you've heard me say this before but I'm really going to make an effort. Wintertime I will spend weeding through the saved paper clutter. Either file it or trash it. Now stop laughing at me!

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  • northforker

    Wait a minute, I have to catch my breath as I am laughing so hard...

    You're not fooling me you two... How about a compromise postion? We will only plant seeds that we have researched well and know we have a perfect spot for?

    I STILL have containers on my deck. It's AUGUST for cripes sake. Planting too many seeds has been been my biggest mistake.


  • bev2009

    Gardenweed, I would encourage you to continue to plant generously... because I love your pictures!

    It's just so hard, isn't it, not to chase the new plant someone here on GW has introduced to you? I did cut back this year from 177 to about 77. I too still have some plants in jugs. They look very healthy so it isn't hurting them too bad. Now I want to start working on design more, moving things around as needed this fall. Creating a final outline to the gardens. Then I am hoping I will have a plan for what I want to WS in Jan.

    I know it would have been better to plan before I started WSing three years ago, but I didn't know what would grow well, what time things would bloom, the height of the plants, what plants would come my way through friends, or by rescuing, etc. Now I know. I think if I take big clumps of dirt with the plant, I shouldn't set them back too far.

    One thing I wish I had done was have a holding garden for some plants to get a little bigger and I could have babied a little more. I know I've pulled out several thinking they were weeds. LOL

  • gardenweed_z6a

    Cutting down on the # of WS containers won't be as hard to do this coming winter if I just look at some of those pictures you love, bev2009. I've been taking frequent snaps of my pot ghetto showing the 150+ containers of lush, healthy WS perennials for which I still haven't found homes. I've reached the conclusion the lawn will just have to go...I don't have room for it any longer, thanks to WS.










  • bakemom_gw

    gardenweed, grass sucks and brown(bare dirt/mulch)is bad. you have my support.

    Ditch those catalogs - I get nothing and like it. I use this site to inspire my want lists - better information and realistic pictures.

  • Ament

    I so agree with everyone on the issue of the lawn. I am in the middle of gathering every kind of seed. Maybe I'll just WS a bunch, then go out and plant like mad. All over the place! No lawn at all in back, anywhere! LOL Hubby won't care one bit. He doesn't mow anyway. I do. So maybe I'll just reduce it to just the front yard only! Haha! That's a good idea, save me from mowing 1/4th an acre, but then I'll have to plan and plant all sorts of things...Going to be a busy winter!


  • ladygladys

    My biggest WS mistake was relying on annuals to fill up my garden. When I started back in 2008/2009 I wanted instant blooms and so only did a few perennials because I did not want to wait 2 years to see a blossom. I only have about 10 perennial/biennial plants so far. This time around I am going to sow alot more perennials/biennials and just sow the same amount of annuals for my bare spots. I rather have a whole lot of lush green foilage than bare spots. I think that may be one of the main reasons I have so much stinking crabgrass. So for all the newbies out there be patient with the perennials they'll reward ya so much more through the years.

  • dorisl

    I learned that lemon balm is a ground cover. don't let it make seeds..........they come up EVERYWHERE!!!

    lOTS OF TEA this winter, that's all I can say.


  • ladyrose65

    I agree with you pippi, I am going to match everything to height. I have a jungle out there. I had to use a stick to find stuff.

    A lot more organization.

  • spartangardener

    No agastache, no lemon balm, no rudbeckia triloba, no phlox paniculata seed, and deadhead the kissmeoverthegardengate and the amaranth.

  • northerner_on

    This is especially for Gardenweed and her experience with Monarda: Do not trade or plant any seeds unless you know with certainty the full Latin name of it. Before you acccept a trade, or plant any seed, Google with the Latin name and get the characteristics. They are usually pretty good. The Monarda you described is Monarda fistulosa, a native or wild version which I love and grow in my backyard. It is a perfect fence perennial, and attracts bees and butterflies, and it blooms late which is a benefit in my opinion. What you probably wanted was Monarda didyma, which I have in my front garden, 18 - 24 inches tall, mine has pink blooms, some are red. I made this mistake with my first trade with sweet peas. I planted them, transplanted some into a pot, a few into the garden and nothing bloomed. When I enquired about it my source said, she didn't know if they were annual or perennial, 'they just came back every year'. Of course they were perennial. The few plants I planted in the garden are beautiful, but not in the right place and I cannot get them out. In just one year, they had a tap root as thick as a finger and every fall I pull and cut off as much as I can and it still comes back. Big mistake!!!

  • gardenweed_z6a

    Thanks northerner_on - I'll keep that in mind during the upcoming trading season. Up 'til now I've been just a little too eager to add more butterfly/hummingbird attractors to my garden and haven't done my due diligence researching the characteristics of the plants. I have been spending more time on research this year as well as stepping back and looking at my flowerbeds to decide what's lacking or not working.

    Have you tried pouring vinegar on that perennial sweet pea?

  • pippi21

    Eileen...donate your least favorites to an annual plant sale and don't look back OR PLUNK THEM ANYWHERE you can transplant next year. Those babies need to be out of those pots. Knowing you, you probably have a holding bed already dug for "the homeless plants."

  • oliveoyl3

    I admit I've planted plants for years, but only in recent years with my kids nearly grown would I say I'm a gardener because I now know to research before transplanting & tend them afterward.

    After a few mistakes that either
    --became a maintenance nightmare (mint, rose campion, blue forget-me-not, bishop's weed, sweet woodruff, Corydalis lutea, various plants too tall under windows or too close to paths, edging, shrubs & trees)
    --or just disappeared either to slugs, drought, winter wet soils, pet damage, or ??? - they don't tell you why they've disappeared :o(
    I've learned to check more than one source as well as one in my climate because some books don't tell you about a plant's spreading ways or that plants behave differently in different climates creating a high maintenance garden or eyesore if we don't have time or talent to tend it properly.

    Now that I check height, habit, reseeding, etc. I decide if it fits my situation or how willing I am to test it in the 'wrong place' to see if it still blooms or has good foliage or less spreading. For example, Monarda didyma in dry dappled shade slows it down to a crawl so might not work, but giving it another trial year as well as Mrs. Robb's wood spurge, Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae in dry shade. Sometimes, cutting back hard towards end of flowering, but before seeds have ripened prevents too much spreading.

    Look for key words like:
    --mint family, square stemmed = spreads far & wide
    --short-lived plant = self sows (survival depending on climate)
    --fast growing or groundcover = chokes out other slower growing plants & be careful about location

    Examples of plants we've used that don't fit a regular garden bed, but are suitable for difficult spots:
    ...around stepping stones near the outside faucet - Ajuga
    ...between house & sidewalk or driveway with fence in shade - Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum' Variegated Bishop's Weed
    ...between fruit trees in a long staggered ribbon with other garden spreaders around - common orange ditch day lily, Hemerocallis fulva
    ...easy care area of dry shade around a fir tree in woodland type surroundings - added Vinca major plants & columbine seeds to PNW natives already here. Trim the Vinca in spring yearly & CBAF (cut back after flowering) the columbine because of leaf miners, but not until seeds have matured & sowed themselves.
    ...spearmint & bee balm (Monarda didyma) kept in large sunken pots along fence with stepping stones in front for easy harvesting

    If you want to grow some of the 'warned about plants' just make a new garden bed of spreaders & let them duke it out. We planted free plant swap spreaders in lasagna layers last spring, then in early summer added winter sown plants. We plan to add more in 2012 now that the layers have composted into soil and will find out how good or bad the 'misbehaving plants' are here.

    Let's help other gardeners by sharing our experiences before they plant & regret it. What other seeds/plants should have warnings about spreading ways? How have you used them successfully in your gardens?

  • morz8

    Corrine, sometimes even the key words fail us because plants behave differently in different climates - like butterfly bush being invasive here to the point its a listed noxious plant, while E coasters don't have to be concerned with it. And while barberry is not invasive here, it can be a self sowing nightmare elsewhere.

    If you are asking about plants that should come with warnings, one of the worst in my garden was lysimachia ciliata 'Purpurea'. I bought it when newly introduced from a very upscale rare plant nursery, and fought it for about 5 years. Another was euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon', which self sowed everywhere and promptly developed powdery mildew by late Spring. I heard Dan Hinkly say in a lecture one time, we no longer ship this. We just tell it the address where it is to go and it finds its own way there and establishes.

    Neither of the above were really WS plants but self sowers and spreaders. I think my worst naturlized plant is still scilla though, I've been trying to dig it out, repeatedly cut it back so it won't flower and set seed, bury it, kill it, even poison it for more years than some of you are old. I've made great strides, but still find an occasional 'bluebell' popping up where I can't get at it, like through the roots of a rhododendron, or the one that is tight flush against the crown of an old rose where I have not been able to get the bulb.

  • terrene

    I agree it is very helpful when traders know the true scientific identity of the seeds they trade, and label the packet accordingly. This is one of the reasons I rarely trade seeds. I also have personally grown almost every seed that is on my exchange list.

    Despite taking care, mix ups do happen. For example, a couple times I've mixed up the seeds and labels in containers. The first year I mixed up the Polemonium reptans and Lobelia cardinalis labels. Got LOTS of what I thought was jacob's Ladder, was very proud and posted a picture here, and someone gently pointed out that they looked like Lobelia. Which wasn't a terrible mistake because even though mislabeled I ended up with big patches of Cardinal flower that are so beautiful and the hummer's favorite.

    The first year wsing Centranthus ruber they sprouted abundantly but I wondered why they were slowly dying. Well, I realized too late there were no holes in the container - they had drowned!

  • caterwallin

    My mistake, which I seem to keep repeating each year, is also like some of you...just starting too darn many things. My VERY first mistake was making too much garden in the first place, which I can't keep up with all the weeding, so this year things are getting downsized. No matter how much I desire to have a garden wonderland on about 1/2 acre of ground, it's not physically possible for me to do. I'm not Wonder Woman, and I think I've finally convinced myself of that. lol

    When you have all of this ground waiting for plants, you feel like you have to fill it, which starts with the wintersowing. I punched and cut sooo many gallon milk jugs and bought a LOT of potting soil other years and off I went to the races, doing jug after jug until I'd have well over one hundred, probably closer to two hundred. Of course, the plants don't all come up at the same time in the jugs and so I thought I wouldn't have a problem, just sow them as they pop up and get big enough and move onto the next bunch. Silly me didn't take into account, though, that I'd also have to keep up with the weeding in the meantime and that I wouldn't be able to keep up with that let alone keep planting more plants in the gardens. I'd end up having to transplant a lot of the plants into 4- and 6-packs, but then those would need watering more, meaning more time invested. I felt like Lucy in I Love Lucy, in the episode on which she and Ethel got a job on a production line in a candy factory and they couldn't keep up.

    Well, this year, grass is getting planted in part of what's now dug up for garden, so I won't be needing nearly as many gallon jugs this year or potting soil. So I'll be saving some money, and I hope I don't move onto some other addiction. Wintersowing is so addicting! I almost salivate at the thought of putting potting soil into that first jug! lol I just love to look at the flowers in the spring and summer! Hi, I'm Cathy, and I'm a Wintersowaholic! :-O

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