Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mistakes in the Garden

Have you ever had that feeling something is wrong with the garden? I have finally come to conclusion I have a problem with sizes of plants in the garden. I really like tiered gardens and have found this to be a difficult design facet when planting beds. How am I supposed to know how tall the plant will be when fully grown??? Unless I know someone who grows the new plant or have grown it myself I really don't have a good grasp on how big a plant will get. I try to plant plants in areas I think they won't bully others and where they will be nicely tiered but it seems to go awry sometimes when the plants outgrow their spots like unruly children.

The case of the huge, MASSIVE mums is just one example. Can you see them in the above picture? They are seriously hanging over my garden fence into the lawn, crowding out all other plants and just mainly making themselves obnoxious. They were supposed to be a nice cushion sized compact plant, at least that was my idea. But the mums had other ideas! When they bloom they will of course be the glory of the garden. After they bloom they are coming out. I am not sure if I will transplant these one year old cuttings, put them in the compost, or give them away-but they are goners. In their place I can see some nice purple asters with 'Little Lemon' goldenrod and some 'Sunny Blue' veronica. Ah yes, that should work-for now.

Here's to redesigning and re-working beds. What problems do you have with garden design? And how do you prevent them? I need some help!

in the garden....


  1. Hi Tina, don't compost those mums please! Move them to a spot where they can spread and do no harm. I like your ideas for the replacements, Sunny Border Blue is a fave here, very well behaved too. As for knowing how large a plant can get, the internet is a great source for that info. I try and check several sites to get an average size before planting. Dave's garden is always good because you can read other's opinions of the plant, but you must know the name of it to find out anything, sometimes a problem I know. I think mums in general will get larger then you think if they are not pinched a couple of times during the growing season. That is what the growers do to make them look so full. I never pinch mine but let them flop around. I do have one yellow one that is three feet tall or more and very late. It is one of my favorites too, but I have moved it to where the height is an asset instead of a problem. I do have lots of problems with design, mainly the little leaf syndrome, but I am working on it. Admitting there is a problem is step one!

  2. Hi Tina, I haven't had mums in the garden since moving here, but I've found the best way to deal with them is pinching. I used to pinch back all the stems by 1/2 in May, and then again in July. The pinched stems will easily start new plants, and pinching them twice like that keeps them much more compact and shapely, and prevents sprawling. They bloom a little later, and they have more blooms as well.

    Working at the nursery, I discovered growers pinch them as well, and that's why they have that nice globe shape when purchased. If they're not pinched, they sprawl something awful, as I learned a couple of years when I forgot to pinch to mine.

  3. Oh..wish I could take a few mums off your hands! :)
    I read the tags on size, but my problem is me thinking "well, maybe it won't get that big!" I always have problems with things that grow tall--no matter what I do, they lean over the smaller plants in front. I think that's because I garden along side a fence. Good luck, I know you will come up with something that will work for you.

  4. Tina hello there !
    Garden Girl is right about the pinching method .. it keeps them smaller (but with lots of blooms) and it delays their flowering .. seems to last longer.
    I have misjudged plants as well when it comes to size .. I have a huge miscanthus, gorgeous plant but stuck between the fence and a lilac tree .. getting that out is going to be a nightmare yikes !
    BUT .. that is what gardens are like .. they change and plants that behave in one garden may not in another .. the best way to look at it is that YOUR garden is its own special place .. plants will react differently .. so don't stress over problems like this .. do a little research and 'adjust" the plants ? according to YOUR needs ! : )
    PS .. Thanks for stopping by my blog : )

  5. Tina,

    Problems aplenty at clay and limestone! Which you will see when you visit here! No mums here, but plenty of under pinched asters! I totally think the word pinch is wrong...we need to cut them back in June!

    I do like that bed, not the over sized mum, but the way it cascades over the edging. Edgings are mere suggestions;->


  6. problems!! i wouldn't know where to begin i inherited problems but i just started new beds so i would feel okay about living here. now with the crunch in the budget some plans are on permanent hold but at least i had my wildflowers. good luck with the mums.

  7. I have this problem but I try to ingore it! lol. Mums are so pretty, I can never get them to look as well as the garden place. Not hardy up here, must be down there?

  8. I think you should just move the mums! Put them somewhere you can let them grow if that's how you like them. My biggest problem is where to put things. I have plenty of space but frequently put something in one place and decide to change it later because it might look better. That reminds me I need to move a viburnum!

  9. Oh dear, one problem after another.
    That is life in general, sigh. Just have to do what works best.

  10. Tina, those mums will be lovely. Pinch them back hard every month until July. But the easiest solution: Make that border wider;) LOL, that'll give them enough room.

    Speaking of the tiered (by plant size) garden. That is very difficult to do. The nicest ones I've ever seen incorporate shrubs (frequently evergreen) for the effect instead of tall perennials. Perennials just don't give you that dense, substantial background like shrubs do.

    My ongoing garden problem is that I hate to divide and move plants. I let clumps go until they are 10 times as large as they should be and have smothered their neighbors. I have huge masses of siberian iris that are overrunning everything in the garden. Next spring I really need to do something drastic.

  11. Tina, I could write a week's worth of posts on mistakes in the garden! But that is part of the fun in the garden, isn't it--seeing what works and what doesn't and changing plants around for a different look. I don't have any advice, but I would move the mums somewhere else where their size would be appreciated.
    My problem seems to be with plants that spread horizontally. My main flowerbed is so full that there isn't a bare spot of soil to be seen. I'm trying to decide what could be moved out, and I'm thinking I might need more vertical plants. Something to think about over the winter...

  12. Good morning all! Such great help from everyone. But, I should've said in the post I do pinch back all my mums and make new mums. I think I am mummed out now? This type just is extra big and extra late, though I love them.

    Frances, I think I may have to find a spot for them-maybe out front in the driveway garden. Gotta make room. I think you and I have the yellow mum-this it it. Very late and has a button in the middle of the petals? I'll move these in the center somewhere.

    Garden Girl, I like your way of pinching. Two times sounds great. I usually pinch about every month thru July. I'll try the two times by half and bet that will help.

    Meadowview Thymes, Yup, me too! We hope it won't get that big I mean gee, it looks so small at the time! We gardeners, I tell you.

    GardenJoy4me, I really do love your blog and am sorry I don't stop by as often. I should probably visit Blotanical more to see all these great posts on my faved blogs. The watercolor post was quite lovely with the colors. I am going to adjust these mums soon and they should be okay. My problem is more in planning I think.

    Gail, I do kind of like the reaching out of the mums, what you don't see are moonbeam coreopsis underneath the mums. They are so abused and have about had it from all the shade. They looked good earlier though. I can't wait to visit your place. I want to see your large aster in all its glory. I only have three; which were a gift with some other plants. The friend said since they were with the irises that if I wanted I could have them too. Just love asters.

    Marmee, You have mums too I remember. They come back reliably for me and I hope yours do too. Wildflowers are the best!

    Dawn, We are SO lucky here the mums return every year and are easy to propagate. I enjoy them so but have to find better spots. Ignoring them won't work as I want my gardens tiered and this is so hard for me. Sigh. I'll keep trying.

    Dave, What is it with gardeners that we always move plants? I know it is part of the process but a painful part for the plants since they are obviously set back. Move that viburnum quickly because they get too big fast.

    Marnie, Now there is an idea I have contemplated! Making the garden wider. lol I do that a lot and may consider it for here. I love massive clumps of plants and you are lucky to have them. I bet your irises are wunderbar!

    Rose, A weeks worth of posts on mistakes in the garden would be helpful to many-me for sure! Having every spot of the ground covered is a blessing. Is your main flower bed the one by the house? I thought it quite lovely. Vertical plants are good.

  13. I think the garden looks lovely Tina, but it sounds like you are ready to make a change. I like your plan for the replacements, sounds like a great combination of color. Maybe just moving the mums to another location instead of composting them would be good.

  14. Mistakes? I never make mistakes in the garden. tee hee, you know that I am yanking your chain right? lol... The Saint says my problem is I want Instant Gratification! I want a full garden from spring on therefore, I plant too closely. An issue I am working on but as I look out the window I can see the Verbena, Mexican Heather and Perwinkle fighting with each other. Oh well, they all look pretty and like one long train together...

    3 big fat inches of rain yesterday! That is good but why could that 3 inches not have been spread over the month of Sept.... argggg... Expecting more today.

  15. I pinch my mums twice as well. But this year I have one that is very leggy none-the-less. It has buds but hasn't bloomed yet. I don't know what kind, it was rescued from my old office's trash. Good luck with your mum and deciding what to do with it.

  16. I did this with a chocolate Joe Pye Weed. I was so exited to get seeds that I didn't bother to see how big it would get. When it grow in the first year I knew I'd planted a monster for the very small space I had.

  17. I'll concur with the pinching back -- most flowering plants benefit from it and you'll get an abundance of blooms. Your garden is lovely!

  18. Good Morning All {soon to be noon},
    I hope all have a lovely day. I like the layered look but I cannot achieve it living in the city--no backdrop, like a fence or something solid. I have a couple mums but they are in pots. I have not pinched them at all & they have not bloomed. I've had a couple die for unknown reasons. But I just purchased more & hopefully I can keep them as they are different colors. In fact all that I have has to be on the small size due to lack of space.
    We just keep trying.

  19. Tina, you've got me imagining a cooperative garden group of Tennessee bloggers who get together to pinch each other's mums and asters twice a season ;-]

    My garden is not layered right this year, but some of it's weather - some plants are a good 18" shorter this year. Even though I added water, I think the heat stunted them.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  20. My habit, which is oftentimes a cures, is to just hack at something until it's the size I want. If I'm not all that crazy about it in the first place, that is. If it comes back, good. If not, I'll plant something else. I also have the problem of never knowing quite how to figure these things out ahead of time.

  21. Yep. I know what you mean. By the end of the season all my mistakes are looming large and I want to cut everything down or move it. ;)

  22. Tina, I enlarged the first pic. I can't believe how tall you Cannas are. Mine finally got a little over 5 ft. The poor little Tropical Sunrise will have to be moved as we can't see her for the bright yellow in front. It's like a lemon yellow.
    Now for the question---the little black round things that are in those pods on the Cannas--are they seeds & can you plant them & they will come up?

  23. Hi Racquel, Thanks for the nice comment. I am working this garden but didn't realize these guys would get so big. I'll move them.

    Skeeter, You who lost $80 worth of plants never make mistakes? Yup, pulling back;) btw, FALL is the best time to plant so use that money to buy stuff now, especially with all that great rain. Instant gratification is good. We all probably wish it were like this.

    Cindy, A friend threw out a mum? Great you rescued it and it will be a neat surprise when it blooms.

    Garden Bloggers, I love chocolate Joe pye weed. It can grow quite large for sure. Time to move the monster I guess. Sigh.

    Nancy, Thanks!

    Lola, Hopefully your mums will bloom. They need lots of fertilizer when grown in pots. Keep trying.

    Annie, Now there's a thought....I can see us all now pinching...HA!

    Brenda, Yup, I remember those shrubs and you with the pruners and hacking. That is one way to solve the issue. lol

    Donna, This happens to you too? Seems like every season I just want to move stuff and start over. Not a good way to garden at all. Oh well.

  24. Hi Lola, We posted the same time. Those cannas are really tall this year and still growing. I finally figured it out with them-they need sun! I had them in the shade and just moved them here last fall where they are happy. Those are seeds in the pods. I have never planted them so I am not sure if they would grow or not. Usually cannas are so easy to divide since they multiply so fast that folks give them away and it is not really worth starting them from seeds. But if you left the seeds in place they might self seed a bit. Not sure of the stratification requirements of them so I would leave them. Division is easy and can be done pretty much any time. You just dig the tuber and separate. I think the cannas are such nice plants but am not happy with the damage leaf rollers cause to them.

  25. Problem? I don't see a problem. Just get rid of the edging, the lawn, and let the flowers take over.

  26. Hi Tina, we do have the same crazy yellow, it is the world's biggest mum and pinching isn't it's thing. I didn't realize you talking about the tall yellow button one. Nothing to do but let it me tall, maybe give it something to lean on, mine are in with the Karl Foerster calamagrostis grass that is even taller than the mum. they work well together. I have tried to add the canna phaison, aka tropicana I think because it is supposed to be tall too, not this year though. In the spring I have the tall species orange daylily, it is as tall as that grass, six feet easily.
    no mum pinching here, only fending ;->

  27. Walk2write, Now there's an idea!

    Frances, Yup, this mum seems to grow no matter what. I love it though but it is a bit unruly. I need to move it for sure. I need you to come and coach my garden as you have the best ideas with combos.

  28. Three years ago, we redesigned our front lawn - we started over - had old grass removed, installed 3 huge flower beds and laid new sod which I hope I never have to do again - such hard work for weekend gardeners. Anyway, I worked for a year planting all types of perennials, roses, etc. Now as we are entering the fourth year, everything seems to have exploded in growth. Knockout roses are 5-6 feet tall, Siberian Irises are massive, lambs ear everywhere, daylillies, etc. as well as a huge amount of weeds and of course the bermuda grass has gotten in the middle of some of the plants. So I am in the process of digging and dividing - and most of them had to be put in pots because yesterday was the first day we have had rain in over 30 days. It's amazing how well the weeds to without water - however, I used some "free" mulch last year and I think I got a lot of weed seeds from that. Oh well, another lesson learned! I will be careful as I replant, because I don't want to have to start over every three years.

  29. Bettyinga, Your garden sounds like a dream! To rip out grass and start everything is the real way to do it. I bet your neighbors love you! Yup, it is amazing how those weeds can survive just about anything, and they say roaches will live thru an atomic bomb, so will the weeds-especially that Bermuda grass! Urgh! The good news is that dividing and ripping out the plants means more free plants:) Gotta find the bonus somewhere huh? Thanks for dropping by! Do come again as I'd love to see your gardens.

  30. Ah, mistakes! I used to tell folks (before I retired) that if they didn't make mistakes, then they must not be doing anything! Garden on! Cameron