Monday, January 5, 2009

The Number One Mistake for a Plant Lover

We all know the number one mistake gardeners make in the garden is to not allow enough space for the mature size of their plants. I have a number one mistake I am betting experienced gardeners make in the garden. Bear with me now. If you are the type of gardener who takes your time and plans every square inch of your garden, knows exactly where all of your plants are and pays very close attention to them all, then stop reading, you don't make this mistake and my hat is off to you! But, if like me, you plant and plant and plant, and sometimes forget what you planted and where it is planted, then you make this mistake despite knowing better and despite planning. Trust me, it happens to us a lot.

The above cyclamen is growing in and amongst a wood hyacinth; which is not an ideal situation for either plant. These two both grow in my woodland garden and are actually doing okay I suppose. What is my excuse for planting like this? I could use the fact these plants are ephemeral
and don't stay around long enough for me to realize they are there, but that is not the reason they are planted on top of one another. No, I just simply run out of room, forget what is there, or don't care and plant something else. The result is not pretty. To say my garden might be a bit over planted would be a true statement. Anyone else have this problem? Make this mistake? And besides planning every little grid on paper, or marking the garden, what is a handy solution to prevent planting on top of plants in the future? Stop planting? Now you all know I couldn't do that and I bet you all can't either-so do I just live with the situation?

in the garden....


  1. I've heard planting in and around others, ie: something that is growing while bulbs are blooming, growing in and around the bulbs, Is the best way to do it. I've always thought that was to hard to do tho.

  2. HA Tina, even though I am pretty organized and keep fairly good records, I kept reading and am guilty too. It is not the initial planting that does in the plan, it is the moving of stuff, a serious addiction. I do write down where something goes but not so the many movings. There are just too many and too impulsive to keep track of. I am thrilled at the thought of the cyclamen being hardy, yours are so pretty, even without the blooms. I would move the scilla now though. :-)

  3. I forget exactly where I have hostas over the winter. Spring comes, but hostas are not up yet, and I plant something right on top! I keep thinking I will mark the spot, but just wishful thinking as I never do.

  4. How many times have I dug a perennial hole, only to find Spanish bluebells or daffodil bulbs in the space? Too many to count!


  5. Good Morning Everyone,
    Sounds like me talking, Tina. I've been known to plant on top of another plant due to forgetting that a plant was already there. Hostas are real good at hiding in the winter but this yr I put a short green bamboo stick by each one so I wouldn't loose it. lol Heucheras on top of Hosta, not good.
    I hope all have a wonderful day.

  6. He-He, I'm counting on it! Editing the garden is fun for me. Besides, you never know if a particular plant will thrive there or the bunnies eat it, or you grow to hate it. That said, when it comes to trees and shrubs, that's a different matter - planning is a MUST!

  7. It certainly does have pretty foliage.

    LOL, on my mistake-0-meter, that barely moves the needle;) I think it would be easier to fix the over crowding mistake than to use markers or charts and diagrams;)

  8. I am guilty on both counts! My front garden looks out of control in the summer, because I didn't really believe the tags on perennials when they said to allow 2 feet on either side. I'm getting better about writing down plantings and drawing little maps of my garden so that I remember what is planted where. Even so, I sometimes forget or I think a plant has died so I plant something new there, only to have the original suddenly pop through one day. That's why we're always digging in the garden, isn't it?

  9. I was reading about snow drops and all of a sudden remembered a friend had sent me some and I had planted them, but where? I have no idea. CRS I guess. :D

  10. I think the answer is to make another garden! You can't stop collecting plants. I've squeezed in a few here and there as temporary holding spots and eventually move them. I definitely have some plants to move this spring.

  11. Dawn, Daylillies work perfectly with bulbs! Easy too!

    Frances, Both of those plants look just like that. I was surprised how much green the woodland garden has. Ferns, cast iron plant, cyclamen, camelias, azaleas, (some deciduous-your favorite!), silverberry, liriope, even some colombine. It is great. But I am not happy with these two being so close. They are going to have to fight it out. May the best plant win.

    Linda, Lola has a great idea-put small bamboo sticks where the hostas are! I think I'll do this too. I always lose mine as well:(

    Cameron, I am so glad to hear this happens to others too!

    Lola, I love the idea of the bamboo sticks. I will have to use this tip-thanks!

    Helen, I am opposite-I don't want to dig anymore as I dig so much with dividing. Please let me learn to plan! Ha! But I understand the bunnies and critters. I usually plan fairly well with trees and shrubs-the biggest part of my garden, but I have been known to dig these while quite big too. My Mt Airy viburnum finally got too big for me to dig and taught me-no more!

    Marnie, You're my kind of gardener. Let's go dig it! I do it all the time but am getting tired of it. I need to plan better and SLOW down. This is probably the cause of the overplanting more than anything else. Sigh.

    Rose, Those silly marker makers-don't they know they should only print what we WANT this perennial to grow too? Ha! I wish! Wouldn't gardening be fun if we can will our plants to grow just so? It would make it simpler.

    Donna, You'll find out in the spring-soon! You are funny, I have that syndrome too-more than I'd like to admit that is one reason why I blog-to do mental exercises and to remember!

    Dave, Have you seen my one acre plot lately?? Too many gardens now. I just enlarge them. lol Nope, I will never stop collecting plants. That is my thing though. Wait until you see my mission statement-not what one would think.

  12. Who can go wrong with collecting plants. However, it does have its drawbacks. Just have to move it or let them fight it out. In that case, may the best plant win!

  13. I agree with Dave. Make another garden and to heck with the lawn. Who likes mowing and trimming anyway? But if that seems too daunting, just dig up the plants you don't have room for and give them away or sell them at a real "yard" sale. I'm thinking of doing something like that when my hostas start bursting the seams of their bed. I don't have another shady spot that would work for them.

  14. Mom, That is my thought too! Hopefully the two will coexist and cover all the ground. I want to see zero ground. Mom, it is difficult to sort out our things, but so much more better as you feel organized and cleansed. I am going thru it here. One closet at a time. I suppose I got my collecting from you. Lucky Joanne and Terri to not collect!! Now I only want to collect in the garden. Less clutter inside. Good luck sorting it out.

    Walk2Write, You know I have seriously been contemplating having a plant sale all on my own. When I visited Maine a super gardener was selling plants to make room for new plants and btw, she was due to be on the tour the next month! I know she made tons of money because of the amount I spent. lol Good luck with yours! I bet you'll get all those extra hostas sold!

  15. Tina, one thing is for sure, you like to dig in the dirt and plant things! I also see you have some grassy areas in the yard that could use a shovel as well. lol I agree with Walk2Write, who needs grass as all you do is mow it right? You can just make all walking paths in your garden and do away with the grass. Now, I have solved your dilemma, plant more.... ha ha, or you can turn your passion into money and start a business with planting in others gardens. Landscape designer! I believe this suggestion would entitle me to free services from you so feel free to come to my yard and plant more as you know, I have lots of grass that could be dug up. And I bet you could have fun in my woods creating a woodlands garden.... :-)

  16. You hit the nail on the head with both of 'your' mistakes, Tina! Maybe the top mistake changes as the garden matures - my 1.5 year old yard is heavy into the planted-too-closely phase, though I'm planning to spread things out once I get more beds prepared. I can't resist buying a lovely plant now when I'm planning to have space for it someday, even if not yet . . . I expect I'll move into the can't-remember-where-things-are-planted phase in a few years. Happy new year - VW

  17. I've known for months you are a gardener after my own heart. I will defend to some degree planting too closely--I do it somewhat deliberately because it does cut back on weeds. And since we're both cursed and blessed with too much space, I can always start another bed. And who knows--maybe the cyclamen and the hyacinth have become best friends! they certainly seem to be thriving. Happy gardening, Tina.

  18. Dear Tina,

    They look happy! To be able to please the often picky cyclamen is a testament to its happy state. I am casting my vote for the new garden bed...feed those digging needs! (per Gardening Gone Wild--Use your camera to help keep track of where and what you plant). gail

  19. Hi, it´s the first time I visit your wonderful site.
    Found the way through my friend (Lindalunda Sweden)
    I must say I had such a good laugh and a great break whilst reading yoyr blog....wonderful
    It was a bit like looking into a mirror.
    My comment to your: Misstake no 1 is
    I still do love all my misstakes I made in the past and I can´t wait to find out what´s comming next.
    Welcome to my blog.
    With warm regards from a freezing Sweden, Petra

  20. I'm guilty as charged! Especially with bulbs. I don't keep a detailed plan so I often forget where I've planted them. Come fall I have put my shovel thru many an established clump of bulbs trying to plant new ones in the exact place. I might take the suggestion you got of using pictures to remember. That is a great idea and easily accomplished (at least easier for me than making a detailed plan).

  21. I'm guilty of this big time Tina! lol Especially with bulbs, in fact I have a few examples I could show you right now. ;) Moving things around alot (like Frances) is my other reason. But somethings will never change so I don't sweat it, I'll just move them again & hopefully they'll end up in their own space this time, lol.

  22. Hi Tina and happy New Year! Wishing you and yours a joyful 09 -lots of blooms and boutiful harvests.

    Just like the others, I've also planted where I shouldn't have been. I've read about putting annuals in where the bulbs have faded,but so far I haven't gotten that synchronized. I got a new book on "Succession Planting" that I hope will help me this year.

  23. I sure do the same thing! Don't know the answer. It's sort of like being at a restaurant and you order bigger than you can eat. I just can't stop picking up a plant I like, without very much regard with where it's going!

  24. Ha Skeeter! I don't have the time to do others gardening for money now as it is-I don't think I'll be doing any for free:) Advice-always if asked!

    VW, I know you have great fun with the little one in the garden. Who cares where it is as long as it blooms right? May 2009 be your best!

    Cosmo, And you too! I smile every time I think of you. I'm letting these two guys fight it out. May the best plant win!

    Gail, Thanks on the cyclamen. It really does seem to like it there. It bloomed the same time yours did. I meant to post on it but gee, I am so backlogged now as it is.

    Petra, Thanks! And welcome. Always happy when new visitors drop by and let me know. You are quite the talented lady to write in three languages! Please stay warm in cold Sweden.

    Kathleen, When you hit those bulbs don't you just want to like patch them back together and hope for the best? I hate that feeling too. Urgh! Photos might work. Try it out.

    Racquel, Don't you just love it when they do find their own space? No more moving them around? I always think I am saving every plant I plant that came out of a pot, but then they move so much in my garden they probably feel more like gypsies than saved. Ha!

    JGH, Enjoy your new book. I strongly believe in succession planting. A very good idea. Now on to synchronizing the plants...

    Brenda, It is a buy now-worry where it will go later for me too. Somehow it seems to work out in the long run-with lots of moving around:)

  25. That cyclamen has beautiful foliage, I hope it wins the battle with the wood hyacinth.

    I think I might be on the look out for this plant. I'm guessing it will have to wait until the fall bulbs come out again.

  26. I think we all have spots where things are a little overplanted. Sometimes the guidebook or nursery estimates are too conservative as to sizing--And since you're a good gardener the plants will be extra happy and larger anyway!

  27. Ha, this sounds like me exact thoughts! I swear to myself to stop buying new plants and never do. I end up searching for new spots, moving one plant to make space for another, it's endless.I tell myself that in my next garden I will plan everything, but knowing myself, I wont plan a thing and it will end up being my crazy quilt of a garden.
    This was a great post! I so relate to it.

    Great day to you~

  28. Dan, Thanks, Glad you like the cyclamen. It is pretty nice.

    Lostlandscape, You are very nice to the nursery label makers-I think they are almost always wrong on judgments on growth of a plant. I've learned to research all new plants and STILL I overplant. lol And thanks for your kind compliment on my gardening skills, I try but I sure have killed a lot of plants too. These ones are the lucky ones, close or not.

    Karrita, I am still remembering that beautiful picture of your pink brugs and I think you plant wonderfully! Overplanting is okay sometimes if it works. Hopefully it will work for me like it has for you.

  29. had to laugh--- I look at my garden and say why are my plants so so far apart... must be I am not making that mistake and my pereenials will thank me for it.

  30. Wayne, You are one SMART gardener and your perennials are lucky!

  31. Tina--- thanks for thinking me smart. but there is so much to learn and blogging is inspiring to keep learning. luck will only get you so far!