Plants Behaving Badly

Plants usually behave badly for a reason. And it's not usually their fault. All it takes is a tiny mistake or a small misjudgement on the part of the gardener. Overlooking the words 'ground cover' on the label is one such. Or the popular excuse (often mine) of the nursery bargain bin fanatic - there was no label anyway, and it needed rescuing....

 Such a nuisance.
Invasive Yellow Lamium Flowering

And so I've introduced some plants who are now behaving very badly in my garden. I've checked back in my diary and feel extreme embarrassment as I read those first innocent comments. 'Have just bought a pot of Plantus Monsterus. Have planted it in Middle Border. Hope it likes full sun.' Later the tone changes. 'Have had to cut back Plantus Monsterus. It is quite vigorous, wonder how big it will get...'. And this is only the beginning!

 A pretty clump by the rose pergola.
Lilac Phlox

The worst 'misbehavers' can be the sneakiest and the prettiest. First prize must go to lilac phlox - ubiquitous, sneaky, impossible to lose. One spring, in a fit of colour righteousness, I removed ALL the lilac phlox from Jeremy's border by the house. I would plant blue pansies and salvias in the space so created, and these colours would complement the pale peachy tones of the Nancy Steen roses....

Pretty Badly Behaved

By midsummer there was a large healthy flourishing clump of lilac phlox, right there in the middle of Jeremy's border. Where did that come from? I never even noticed, until the lilac flowers appeared. Hmm...

Hopping Mad

Second prize for naughtiness has to go to my Golden Hop. This is a plant I have always admired in British gardening magazines. When a local mail order nursery offered these climbing plants for sale, I ordered three. Three! I didn't know that controlling a Golden Hop required a 'tough love' parenting mentality - where boundaries are set, with consequences, and these are rigidly adhered to. My own attempts at 'tough love' parenting have always been rather lame. My children still quote my most famous attempt : 'If you do THAT again, I'm going to have to ask you not to...'

 It all started out so wonderfully...
The Golden Hop Misbehaving

The first season was fine. The Golden Hop covered the huge tree stump it had been bought for, looked beautiful in the evening sun, and the cut of its leaves were a perfect contrast for the neighbouring flaxes and rhododendrons. I cut it right back that Autumn, worried a little about frost, but left it, with a promise of 'something to climb up next summer'. During winter I thought about getting a climbing frame built. I had such good intentions.

 A bit of a monster, but never mind...
Clematis Montana

Then spring seemed to fly by, and when I first remembered to check, the golden hop had devoured all plants within a three meter radius. I felt 'mother guilt' all over again. Now the tree stump is rotting, and the Golden Hop is very happily menacing the entire garden. I didn't have the sense to provide a power pole, so it's moved off in all directions to find something else to climb up - the rhododendron, the Pittosporum, the Cordyline... Plant initiative?

Bad Clematis Habits

I must stop rescuing unlabelled Clematis plants from sale tables. They look so forlorn and abandoned, but something strange then happens. No matter what leaf form or seed head they have at the point of sale, they all turn into Clematis Montana and run riot. There isn't a fence-line long enough or a tree high enough...

Wedding Day Woes

Early in my gardening career I tried to grow a Wedding Day rose up a tree. Wedding Day's idea of growth was 'out', not 'up', and out came its long thorny tentacles, writhing over and under every plant in sight. Then I caught it in 'flagrante delicto', strangling the nearby Pittosporum tree. Huge canes had also grown up and over an old Cordyline by the drive. Just before flowering the wind blew all the canes down and left them waving over the driveway. Cyclists and night walkers were in serious danger.

 Beware its thorny canes!
Wedding Day Roses

Guess what this Autumn's major clearing mission is!