Thursday, May 25, 2006

Your least favorite plant?

This used to be lots of fun in the Gardenweb perennial forum; gardeners would shock each other by revealing the plants they really can’t stand, regardless of said plants' popularity and virtuous habits. In a comment to my last post, Laurie nominates Echinacea (coneflower) and Autumn Joy sedum. I couldn’t agree more. Coneflower does look like a diseased daisy and Autumn Joy is just plain hidjous. Yet, you see both of these everywhere—usually in large groups. The Autumn Joy is tolerated because it blooms at a difficult time, I guess. But I’m not even sure if I would call what it produces a flower. I would suggest that people are much better off loading up on long-blooming annuals and self-seeders like (my favorite) Verbena boniarensis. Japanese anemone is a gorgeous late summer/fall flower, a gazelle to AJ’s warthog, though it’s not all that easy to grow. (They do very well with it in England.)

I will tolerate an ugly habit for a beautiful flower. Lilies, for example, have lanky, mutant-asparagus-like stalks that pretty much look like crap. But they give a gorgeous bloom and scent the entire garden for weeks. Another area for extreme tolerance is the shady, root-ridden state of my front garden. I will take just about anything that creates groundcover—and that includes many weeds.

But where I have a choice, I refuse to grow these plants:

Asters
These are very nice, but I find them boring. I prefer the brighter, annual daisy-like plants.

Chrysanthemums
They’re so depressing. By the time these come along, I’d just as soon give up on the garden for the year. I’m not that desperate.

Achillea
Floppy, stinky—what’s acceptable about this plant? (The dainty variety with small white flowers is OK.)

Ajuga
This does not spread easily or quickly. All the promises are lies.

Sempervivum (hens and chicks)
Why do people like this? There’s something I’m not understanding here.

Scabiosa
Ok, this is pure spite, because I failed miserably with it. Still, it is not all that.

That’s enough for a start; no need to wallow in it. And, having said all this, I always find myself maintaining and defending plants that, in my heart, I really don’t like. Because they’re mine and because they’re alive, even thriving, despite my ineptitude. So the admission that I’ve just planted two new, double-headed Echinacea in a sunny space should surprise no one.

It's still deformed—well, even more—but in an interesting way, I think.

33 comments:

Jen14221 said...

My least favourite right now is my basil plant which appears to be dead, dead, dead.

Karen said...

My ajuga spreads, both easily and quickly. Maybe yours was just being awkward?

Sempervivum? What is NOT to like? Then again, now that I think about it, it's not that great in an actual garden setting.

Sempervivum is all about the containers you find to plant it in, the colours and varieties you are able to get your greedy little hands on, and the artistic combinations you can make with other succulents such as stonecrop and echeveria. Oh, and it goes well with rocks, of course.

Hmm, maybe I'll have to do a post about sempervivum...

EAL said...

Jen, I know you live in the US, so let's go with favorite, OK? Your basil probably got too cold, if it was outside recently.

Karen, you can stay with favourite, eh?

As for sempervum, de gustibus non est disputandum, as those of us who live in ancient Rome like to say.

Jen14221 said...

Dear Elizabeth,

You are a smartass. My favOURite smartass.

Genie said...

Loved this post -- very funny! I've never (with apologies to Karen) understood the hens and chicks fascination either...

Genie
The Inadvertent Gardener

Garden Obsession said...

I love my purple cone flower (but can't stand that double kind... looks like a victim of nuclear waste, like those 4 legged frogs or fish with 2 heads) and hens and chicks, too. Pretty much any sempervivum or sedum I find irresistable for some reason. And I normally don't like little plants. These just seem so... bizarre. I dunno.

One plant that I find I cannot live with is rudbekia. Any yellow or white daisy-looking flower either. So mudane. I hate impatiens. HATE THEM. If I could banish them all by waving my magic wand, I would do it in a heartbeat. Most bedding annuals, except snapdragons, I won't even look in their direction at the nursery. I've walked through the annuals section exactly once at my favorite nursery and only to make my way back to the herbs.

Amy Stewart said...

Nandinas. Don't even make me look at a nandina. They fill me with murderous rage.

I did a Plants I Hate post once (http://dirtbyamystewart.blogspot.com/2005/10/plants-i-hate.html) and then immediately had to do a Plants I Love post to counteract the general opinion that I was a plant hater disguised as a gardener.

Julia said...

Add Rubeckia 'Goldsturm'. Ick. Such a brassy yellow and I'm so sick of seeing it everywhere.

meresy_g said...

Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria). I hate it simply because of the name. It has nothing to do with the silvery foliage or habit. It's just So trashy. I picture a pregnant, shoeless woman with a cigarette in her mouth, standing in the door of her trailer. "There she is, there's old Dusty Miller now." God I hate that plant.

Carol said...

I avoid yews and junipers in my gardens.

firefly said...

Hostas, hands down. Maybe it's just where I live, but they are soooooo overused I want someone to write an "Enough with the Damn Hostas" rant similar to the Renegade Gardener's Enough with the Damn Daylilies:

"When a daylily is done blooming (and for the period before it blooms) it lies there like Jabba the Hut, leaves flopping about, finally turning yellow, then brown, from mid-season on."

I have hostas every few feet in my yard (thanks to a previous owner) and I just don't see the appeal.

Except maybe to slugs.

Anonymous said...

Varigated Goat Weed absolutely
makes my stomoach turn!
As for that shady dry area where
nothing grows give sweet woodruff a try...drought tolerant/spreads
quickly/loaded with white "star-like" flowers in spring.

Zoe said...

Okay I totally agree with "themeresy_g 's" comment about Dusty Miller !

That is soooo funny because its sooo true.
Dusty Miller is trashy.... but you know what makes it even trashier?? Picture a row of them singled out alternating with scrappy looking red geraniums and spread some of that dyed red-orange mulch around and edge it off with some white-painted rocks to separate it from your large expanse of chemical-laden grass.

Its almost enough to make me vomit.
I think this was exactly what my suburban neighbor's lawn looked like. Oh wait, there were some boxy, banal hedges to the left of the geranium/dusty miller mix.

YIKES!

But anyway whats with the hating on
Hens and chicks?
They remind me of my childhood. I really enjoy them, they are whimsical and dont look like they should grow in this climate ...(Buff)

I think its all about the context. I agree that autumn joy usually looks stupid and ugly, but if its in the right context, it can look okay.

good laughs-

EAL said...

Hey Zoe thanks for stopping by!

gardenmob said...

Brutal. Absolutely brutal (great job!)(seriously, fantastic topic and reponses all.

Gardenias. can't stand 'em.

Barrie

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Alright, I was lurking over on Gardenmob and found this post. (How the heck did I miss it the first time around? Yikes!) I'm still LMAO at meresy_g's imaginings of Dusty Miller... and you know ol' Dusty croaks like a frog when she tries to talk and will tell you anything you want to know if you slip her a pack of smokes!

I'm right with everyone else who dislikes rudbeckia. Golstrum, Irish Eyes, Maya--I haven't found a black-eyed (or green-eyed) susan I don't dislike. I think it comes from growing up in the style-starved 70s and having a harvest yellow bedroom. Ick.

I also hate the following: shasta daisies, bleeding hearts, impatiens, lamb's ears, delphiniums, and burning bushes.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Oh, I forgot to say that I actually like sempervivums. But outside of those strawberry jars and other containers, I really like them as a groundcover where you would otherwise consider putting stone/gravel mulch aesthetically. They seem to work well like that--like sharp little living stones in greens and reds and blues.

M said...

I would mention butterfly weed. Shouldn't you be weeding your garden and not planting weeds in it?

Tina said...

Hi there, new here! I HATE Privet, all species. Detest, loathe and despise it. Dont like Agapanthus, Scaevola, Coleonema (esp. the dwarf, yellow one), most palms (esp. SAGO), euryops daisy, bouganvillea. Also, anything that is sold in a bigger size container than necesary such as corn in a 4" pot and just about any perennial bigger than a 1 gallon!
BUT< I actually like junipers, used in the right places, and even (gasp!) OLEANDER! Its taken me years but I have learned to appreciate that sometimes these plants really fill a need quite well. Im tempted to say I like the Oleander because it IS a host plant to glassy winged sharpshooter, but I wont. Im tempted to talk about my current rant: how the wine industry sleeps better at night, thanks to massive sprayings of organophosphates..(which us nurseryworkers unload without any warnings and you then buy)...but I wont.

Claire, London UK said...

Begonias fill me with horror, they so look the part of 10 year old, dusty, plastic imitations .

Anonymous said...

I have over 100 pots of hens and chicks in 16 different varieties--i love their hardyness and cheerful baby making. Cool forms and colors.

Anonymous said...

It's kinda hard to understand least favorite plants, but after a lot of thinking about the 1000's of plants I have grown, I guess I do have one-cyperus alternafolius-it will grow anywhere there is a minimum of dirt, moisture (it's a water plant but it doesn't need much)and I don't think it cares about air quality, weed competition,asphalt, and if there isn't much space, it just takes over what is there.

Anonymous said...

Forsythia! Can't stand it. God, the total lack of imagination all over town. There's a cherry tree and an ugly yellow hacked up forsythia in every yard.

What is the matter with those people. Copy cats. Couldn't they add a few spring bulbs around the forsythia for some variety?

Carrie said...

I detest English Ivy! I wrote a blog entry on it! It's invasive, it's a pain to destroy and it's just plain boring! YUCK.

Patch said...

I have to laugh about the Dusty Miller - I do like the texture and color of it, but I've only ever planted it once (it was a momentary weakness when I was gardening on a 2nd story deck). That was about 8 years ago, and it's still alive. We moved from apartment to house, and I dug it out of the pot it was growing in a plopped it into this half-decayed half wine barrel in the corner of a flower bed that I couldn't actually remove since it had a dead shrub in it whose root system went to China right through the wood ...

Transplanting it was when I discovered that old Dusty Miller forms a tuber something like a diseased, deformed, pallid carrot. I was seriously weirded out. I had no idea. Whose Dusty Miller ever lives that long?? The tuber things didn't get transplanted with the rest of the plants, but the plants didn't care. Here they are, 5 years later, and still growing strong. I'm sure they've reformed their tuber things, but I'm not going to dig them up to look. *shudder*

As for plants I don't like, I can't stand peonies or Old English roses. They're just so ... flagrantly ferociously flamboyantly flowery! They're embarrassing, they're so over the top.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog! I just discovered it.

I love sedums, but I think the trick is to focus on the foliage and not the flowers. I find flowers on sedums to be a distraction. Still... I really like Autumn Joy. I have to agree about the coneflower. If it weren't medicinal, I don't think hardly anyone would grow it.

Blackswamp_girl, you would hate my garden. My black eyed susans, shasta daisies, and burning bush are all set in front of my... harvest yellow house.

Bebe said...

I love my purple ajuga!
It spreads like mad- I give plantlets away all season. It grows everywhere and has beautiful blue flower spikes (deadhead and they will reflower in summer)

I only grow hostas in pots- I agree they are slug hotels!

My least favorite is Impatiens- ech! It's everywhere you turn! (in the NE)

Ness said...

I like that flower, that image in the post. It looks like a hula dancer!

runmotman said...

I have to agree with others that i love the ajuga...but plants I hate : bleeding hearts are ugly most of the time , and shasta daisys usually look like big weeds.

Also I dislike anything that reseeds like crazy and grows in my lovely brick walkway -- Columbine , forget-me-nots, autumn sedum, many more...some of them annuals.

Mel said...

I HATE golden bamboo and believe there is a special place in hell for whoever planted it in my yard before I moved in.

Rosella said...

Probably chiming in really late (I haven't figured out how to date the comments yet, but give me time). I don't have any really detested plants, except that where I live every yard has the usual gumdropped forsythia planted right next to the magenta, pink and scarlet azaleas, for maximum hideousity. If those people were more sophisticated they would probably throw in an egg-yolk yellow kerria, but thank goodness they don't know about it.

And I really really don't like hybrid tea roses when they are pruned to look like poor misshapen beggars wearing someone else's fancy flowered hat. And I forgot (wow, you can really produce some hates when you think about it) -- I HATE redbud. I hate the colour, and I specially hate the strange way the flowers emerge from the branches.

Ad just try to stop ajuga in my garden--don't sit still near it for too long.

Anonymous said...

Is it too late to chime in? I hate English Holly, English Laurel, English Ivy, Scotch Broom, and Himalayan blackberries. They are pernicious weeds where I live. The only non-weed that I can think of hating is Photinia. It's overused and poorly used around here. It wants to be a tree, but people insist on it being a hedge. In addition it gets a blight for which there is no cure. I am looking forward to the day when they all die. Come to think of it, I dislike spruces because they ALL get spruce gall which doesn't kill them, but does make them ugly.

maura said...

Euryops daisies don't deserve to live. The shade of yellow is so hideous that I can't believe it exists in nature.

Birds of Paradise give me the creeps.

The twisty type of Rosemary, the kind that looks confused, makes me want to send it to a plant counselor.