It is interesting to me how a plant in one location can be just as calm and polite as can be, but in another climate become wild and untamable. Take kudzu for instance, in Japan it is a nice tame vine that grows rapidly, but not uncontrollably to make vast amounts of feed for animals. Put it in the southern portion of the US and it suddenly shows its dark side. It takes over whole hillsides, climbing towering trees and slowly killing them by smothering them in darkness. Or Japanese honeysuckle. Ask anyone living in the mid-Atlantic and south and they’ll all have their tale of the “Battle with the Honeysuckle.”
I’m finding that some plants that I’ve grown gracefully in other areas of the country are quickly turning into invasives here in the mid-Atlantic. Black-eye Susans (Rudbekia) almost swallowed an entire garden in just three years. Just this past week I had to do damage control and uncover the plants that were now nearly suffocated under it.
I’d always wanted Pink Turtlehead (Chelone), not only because of the cool name, but because the flowers really look like turtleheads. However, it has now swallowed one shrub and two lillies. This fall it will be moved to a location where it can do little damage to anything around it.
Then I heard about an ageratum that was a perennial. I’d grown the annual quite a few times, because I thought their soft puffy flowers were cute. The perennial is also nice, but about 3’ tall, instead of the annual’s 12”. The only problem is the seeds go everywhere and almost all of them sprout. So you soon have ageratum in every garden in your yard whether you want it or not.
I always thought mint was going to be the only thing I needed to reign in, but I’m finding lots of things that grow much larger and spread much farther than in more northern climes.
Also, I’m having lots of things come up from seed that otherwise wouldn’t. I already mentioned the ageratum, but I have two new daylilies, and one of them doesn’t look like either parent. This year I have a brand new shasta daisy and even my camellias have babies all around their base, which I will pot up and move into the greenhouse this fall.
I’ve also learned that if I have enough patience and don’t disturb the soil too much, I will have an unending supply of moss rose, cosmos, holy basil, bronze fennel, catnip, clown flower, celosia, dill, cypress vine, sweet annie; and at least some volunteer zinnias, wave petunias (these you have to be very patient as they come up late), and various onesies of vegetables. I hardly bought an annual for the entire yard this year!
I love gardening, because it is a continuous learning process. There’s always something new to learn about. Now let’s see, I think I need to research peach diseases for next year so we get to eat more of our crop.