Not In My Garden

After decades of gardening, I’ve developed a few opinions about what should be included in a garden and what should be avoided in a garden.

And Kim at A Study in Contrast has started a meme on “Not In My Garden” just in time for me to follow up my post about what to do in a new garden with what to avoid in any garden.

Ready? Here goes…

Junipers. I have yet to see a juniper that aged gracefully in a shrub border. I have no junipers in my garden.

Cottonwood Trees. Sure cottonwood trees are fast growing, but they are also weak wooded and in the spring the “cotton” gets all over everything and causes even those with no other allergies to wildly sneeze.

Lombardi Poplar Trees. I wrote last year that when you buy one of these trees, go ahead and get a chain saw, too, because you’ll be cutting it down in short order. Whenever I see some of these trees all rowed up, which is how most people plant them, more than a few seem to be dead or in serious decline.

Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower. No matter what I did, my home grown broccoli always had those little green caterpillars in the flower heads. Even though I soaked the broccoli in salt water to force them out, it seemed that when I cooked the broccoli a little green worm would end up in the cooking water. Gross. And don't say "Protein!" Cabbage? Buggy. Cauliflower? Also buggy.

Rocks as mulch. Ditto no plastic mulch. If I have to explain this one…then send me an email. I wrote about this last year, and the only thing that has changed since I wrote that post is that I no longer use cypress mulch, now I use hardwood mulch.

English Ivy (Hedera helix). This is under the subcategory, “Not in My Garden, Again”. I think I’ve almost gotten rid of the ivy. A little goes a long way, and you won’t ever control it and contain it like you think you will.

Planters made out of old tires painted white. Maybe if someone painted them green, the tires would be okay because they would blend in. Just kidding on that. I don’t have a place in my garden for old tire planters of any color and I definitely don't like to see those big spools from the telephone company that people use as outdoor tables.

Plastic Flowers in the wintertime, or anytime. Why do some people who otherwise seem to have nice gardens feel like they need to put fake flowers or fake greenery in window boxes and planters left out in the winter?

Cheap Hoes and any other poorly made gardening tools. I like gardening tools that are well made. It makes the gardening so much easier.

Rabbits, Wolf Spiders, and Snakes. Unfortunately the rabbits can’t read and haven’t figured out that they aren’t welcome in my garden. I’m not sending them the right message when I plant their favorite food (green bean plants) and then leave it uncovered. I also don’t like wolf spiders in my garden. They move fast and seem to jump out just to startle me. And snakes aren’t allowed in my garden, either. I’ve never actually seen a snake in my garden, so maybe I am sending the right “unwelcome” message to them. But just in case, if I am poking around in a place that seems like it would be a perfect home for snakes, I keep a grub hoe at my side for protection.

Finally, the picture above. I try to avoid red and white flower combinations. This was an accident this year. I just wasn't thinking. I bought a flat of mixed colors of impatiens, and planted all the pretty pink, purple, and white ones in containers on my front porch. All the red ones were planted in the back by the hostas as an afterthought. Red (or as they call it ‘crimson’) and white are the colors of a certain university in Indiana which is the rival of my alma mater, Purdue University, whose colors are black and gold. Honestly, if they saw this color combo in my garden, they might kick my out of the alumni association.

I’m sure there are other “NIMG” items here at May Dreams Gardens, but that’s enough from me. I’m waiting to see other gardeners’ lists. While I wait, I’ll be putting together my Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post for the 15th. You all remembered about GBBD, right? You post what’s blooming in your garden then leave a comment on my post to let us know where to find you. My post should be up late tomorrow to allow the early birds to comment.


  1. I'll take your ivy, and let's see, ummmm, I'll have the red and white flowers (since we have red brick with white trim I like to use those colors in front - I'll stay out of the college battle wars). My kids would think that the bugs in the broccoli and cauliflower were cool and it would probably entice them to eat the veggies just to find the bugs, so go ahead and we'll take that off your hands, also. Already have wolf spiders. We saw a snake last year up by the porch (no, it wasn't one of our "escapees"). So, what do I NOT want in my garden? Hummm....weeds. I don't like weeds. I'll have to agree with you on the shrubs and trees because you have greater knowledge than I as your degree is in trees and shrubs (isn't it??)

  2. Oh, I almost forgot. Totally with you on the rocks! We must have 3 feet of rock in all of our beds. After trying to excavate the rock without destroying the plantings, we finally gave up and put plastic down with mulch on top. During the 60's and 70's I think that Dad got a truck load of those little white rocks every year to add to the beds. It looked nice at the time.

    I have to admit that with my deep, deep shade in the front part of the house I have been tempted to put plastic flowers in the window boxes because nothing will grow in them, and they look really pathetic with the feeble attempts the impatiens are making. Does anyone have any suggestions for window box plants that will grow in the shade of two mighty trees - a scarlett oak and a sugar maple? (Both about 45 years old).

  3. I love this post and will do one in the next week or so! Thanks for sharing your red and white flower disgust! LOL

    SWHomestead: Have you tried ferns and caladiums? Lots of great ferns to choose from and caladiums come in all sizes and colors. Also, the begonia family offers some shade tolerant flowering plants. Shade can be a challenge but it is so soothing!

  4. Totally with you on the rocks, and red and white as well. I like broccoli too much not to grow it...although if mine had a green worm problem, I might not be as keen to plant it. So far, I've been lucky on that front :-)

  5. I too fail to understand the appeal of plastic flowers. My MIL loves them in her beautiful garden. She really is a talented gardener and why she resorts to plastic is beyond me (she lives in SoCal for Pete's sake!).

    Our house had rocks when we moved in. Beautiful river rock...I like the way it looks when it rains. My hubby loves rock. My MIL got sick of trying to get her husband and son to mow and so at her last garden anything that wasn't plants (which was most of the yard) was either decking (covered with potted plants) or lava rock. So of course he loves rock . Drives me nuts.

    I love English Ivy - it grew up the North Side of our house when I grew up in Kansas - so pretty - but then the house was ancient and the roof had would shakes growing moss and the whole thing probably would have collapsed if the ivy had been removed. ;)

    I planted cauliflower and broccoli for the first time this year. The cauliflower did not produce. The broccoli was wonderful and sweet and even with tons of looking I only found three worms the entire year. Two in the garden which I promptly squash (early in the season) and one on a plant I brought in which I found before cooking (I thoroughly checked all my plants). I imagine next year I will have a zillion worms.

    I love spiders.

    I totally agree with you about juniper and so does my husband (always a bonus when we agree on garden stuff).

  6. Sorry, I have to chide you about the snakes. The local snake most likely to visit your garden is the grass snake. Not only do they eat nasty garden bugs, but they are so cute! I wish I had them in my garden. I have to visit them in the afternoon at the local forest preserve where they sun themselves on the hiking path.
    Did you have a cottonwood in your yard? I had 2, both male, fortunately. I've cut 1 down, but my husband wants to keep the other. I agree with your assessment of these trees, & could add to their list of detractions.

  7. Sorry you don't like snakes. Most of them are not only harmless but actually beneficial.

    What I wish I did not have in my garden is bermuda grass. Man, do I hate that stuff

  8. No 1 on my not in my garden list is boxwood. There is plenty of boxwood everywhere else without me contributing to the madness. I choose to grow hydrangeas (lady in red) instead. English Ivy and any other invasive climber is second. My town has the stuff everywhere and I fight it daily. It doesn't seem to recognize that it's not welcome in my yard.
    I have shady window boxes and I put ferns in them. I buy small ones and grow them there during the summer, and in the fall transplant them into the garden somewhere, and then start over the next spring.

  9. I agree that spreading rock in the garden is like living in a rock quarry, But all our beds had rock in them (& still does, but covered with mulch & plants in pots). SWThomestead, try the ferns & begonias next year. Sounds good to me (but I'm not the one who does the work. I just enjoy)

  10. Oh my, I have some junipers and they are okay.

    What I have in my garden, and I even paid good money for, and I regret seriously is VIOLETS. Oh, these are so invasive, so invasive, so hard to get rid of and when they start to grow they smother everything around them and I think they produce a growth inhibitor from their roots. I have learned to hate and despise violets and when I go out to weed them out of my day lily beds I ask myself what in the world was I thinking when I planted them!?? What?!!?? Was that a run on sentence? I really don't like violets.

  11. Well just to touch on a few things. I happen to like red and white together. It works for me, especially with Azaleas.

    Junipers. I think I am at the point in my career where I have removed more than I have planted. The Estate has a few very nice cultivars of Juniper, mostly dwarf ones that I don't mind having in the garden. It is almost always planted in the wrong place.

    The Ivy I don't mind but I know under the right conditions it is terribly invasive.

    Tires and rocks, I am with you all the way.

  12. Lets see, Cabbage, Worms getting in them and well, It's not pretty. Eggplants, 2nd year at growing them, Never again.
    And the rocks, Never had them and don't want them as a mulch.

    So far that is all I can think of.

  13. All... thanks for the great comments. On the snakes, I'm sure I'd be okay with snakes in my garden as long as I never saw them!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  14. This is something to think about! I've often thought about what to avoid in my garden the next time around, but never formally recorded it. A very interesting post.


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