Friday, August 20, 2010

A Terribly Beautiful Mistake

Some valuable information that a garden coach can provide to their clients is what plants will look good and thrive in a client’s garden. Equally valuable is what not to plant. Reasons for not planting include, the plant getting too large for the location, the plant is unlikely to survive in the given conditions, or the reason I’m going to discuss in this post, the plant is likely to run rampant so that it smothers out the other desirable plants.

These “Godzilla” plants usually look beautiful and tame enough in their small pots in the garden center. However, get them home and just like kudzu, they will cover or push out everything in its ever expanding area of influence.

When I first added plants to my water garden, I did some reading and knew not to plant things like full sized cattails, water hyacinth or horsetail reed. The dwarf versions of cattail and horsetail reed were supposed to be better behaved however, so I gave them a try. The dwarf cattail showed its Godzilla nature quickly and I ripped in out before it gained much headway.

The dwarf horsetail reed on the other hand, behaved for a couple of years. It stayed where I planted it and almost looked at one point like it might fade away. In a couple of years it began to spread slowly and I was still not concerned. Then, in what seemed like overnight, it covered about half of my pond, tried to clog up my filter and pump system and spread out into my surrounding garden. I do hate that it got so aggressive, because the dragonflies love to perch on it and I have many photographic art prints, note cards and bookmarks because of this. It had to go though. (I’m still working on rooting out the remnants.) After my husband spent several sessions wrestling the main part of the invasion out of the pond, we left it to dry out thoroughly before shipping it out as trash, so that it would not be able to spread if it found a favorable location.

Two other plants that looked so beautiful in their small pots that I just had to take them home and add them to my pond were floating heart and a four leaf water clover. I have to admit that I had been warned about the floating heart, but its nice leaves and pretty yellow flowers proved too tempting. “I can keep it in check, I reasoned.” Big, beautiful, mistake. We did battle it and get it removed before the horsetail and water clover got out of hand.

I really like the water clover. In the open water, its leaves lie flat on the surface and remind me of searching for terrestrial four leaf clovers as a kid. We tried pulling the water clover back to one curve in the pond. I truly thought I’d be able to keep it in check if I had it in a small enough area. Not so, its Godzilla nature was too strong and I am currently working to eliminate it too. It is no where near as pretty when it is crowding the water lilies and standing proud from the water’s surface.

I hope these tips will help you avoid making your own terribly beautiful mistakes in your water garden.

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