What we have heeah – is failure to communicate

Lost in thought on my way to town this morning.  Most mornings, I get in the car, say my morning prayers, and flip on the radio to quiet the drone that are my racing thoughts.  Some mornings I don’t flip on the radio and actually listen to the thoughts.  I keep a notebook in the car for these mornings, because the thoughts are really worth noting and I’ll forget them all by the time I enter the parking garage.

Notes from this morning included “wisteria”, “trumpet vine”, “english ivy”, “evening primrose”.

One evening last week, I coerced my daughter to join me at the middle school for the annual Greenfest.  One of the new events at Greenfest was a perennial exchange.  I was so excited – I went straight home from work, dug up two of my favorite perennial specimens, and lugged them off to the Greenfest.  B does not share my enthusiasm for gardening, which really saddens my heart.  But she was equally excited about the food displays. :/

At the perennial table, I traded my stemless evening primrose (oenothera triloba) for a fern.  This is one flower I can hardly wait for each summer, as the kids love watching the buds bloom each evening.  Just at dusk, they race outside, trying to guess how many flowers will bloom tonight.  And if they are lucky, they get there just in time for the show.  You can actually watch them open!

stemless evening primrose

And I donated my Love-in-a-Mist (nigela damascena), which is actually an annual, but it self-sows, so I made it work.


They will probably not like it after a couple of years when they can’t figure out how in the world it shows up everywhere – even in the cracks of the walkway!  But it’s such a pretty blue flower, I forgive it for its aggressive nature and pull the ones that just don’t belong.

Back to my list – my list of aggressive plants that I have tried despite the voice of experience.  When I first bought my wisteria and shared the news with Alice (my favorite gardening friend), her reaction was “oh my”.  What?  Well, just make sure it has some good support.  It can bring down a small house.  Of course, I’m training it up the stairs of my deck, along the rail.  Hopefully, the rails are strong enough to hold it.

I’ve also been told of how difficult it is to grow wisteria in my part of the world.  Maybe that’s another reason for Alice’s concern.  I know I came close to enjoying the plant in bloom this year, but the weather just did not cooperate.

Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) – the first time I saw it was at the beach house in North Carolina.

trumpet creeper

The flowers were gorgeous, orange and long.  The seed pods are enormous, and should probably have told me something about the plant.  I have tried 3 times (unsuccessfully) to start these vines on my fence, but the ground must be too moist.  I have since read horror stories of having to bring in a backhoe to dig out the roots of this extremely invasive plant.  (I did check on it yesterday, and it does appear that the vine may have taken root, finally.  Now the question that remains to be answered – did I make a mistake here?)

I’ve told my English Ivy story, and Alice actually warned me about that one too.

She gave me my first sample of evening primrose (not the stemless variety) and told me I’d have to keep it at bay, as it could take over the entire garden.  She was right on all counts.

I really have to applaud the new principal at our middle school.  He is really encouraging the students to be good stewards to the environment.  He spearheaded this Greenfest a few years ago, and the program continues to grow each year.  He brings in local nurseries, a bee keeper, an etymologist, a Penn State Master Gardener, and has demonstrations that each class puts together – similar to a science fair.

The perennials that were donated will be planted in the courtyard (which for 25 years has had nothing but grass growing in it).


Ivy Outlaw

I remember the event like it was yesterday, when in reality, it must have been about 15 years ago.  We had just moved into our new house and I was sprucing up the yard with a few plants I bought at the local nursery.  This ivy was call Hedera helix, or English Ivy, and it was just three tiny plants.  The first year, it lulled me into a false sense of security.  It did it’s job very well, spreading slightly to cover a bare patch between the Driveway Sideway garden and the sloping garden I have yet to name.  But like all things that are left to fend for themselves, I lost track of where it was going and what it was doing.

Fast forward about 5 years, and not only is the bare patch completely covered with ivy, but the wall was obliterated, the emerald arborvitae was sporting an ivy skirt, and the concrete block of the house foundation was growing green.  I knew at that moment that I had to keep a better eye on that ivy.  I also understood the term “invasive” when referring to certain overbearing plants.  In fact, I’ve since read that you really should avoid planting this ivy because it is so hard to contain.

This was also the year I discovered that Poison Ivy likes to hang out with its cousin, English.  Hmmm.

Fast forward 10 years (to yesterday) and I’m in total disbelief as I try desperately to re-own the wall.  I’m pulling ivy out by the root, and this stuff is tough.  Each piece of ivy has a root system that defies logic.  This root grabs on tight to whatever is in its path, and it just keeps climbing.  Not sure what kind of moisture it’s extracting from the concrete block foundation and the stone wall, but it’s thriving in places that no living thing should be able to thrive in.