This is a truly lovely time of year, and I must share a few favorites from the vast, partially-tamed wilderness that is our yard. Actually it’s not that vast. Just file this under “for my mother’s benefit.” I should really make that an official category.
I didn’t do anything to deserve this first one. It just came up the first summer we were here, and I had to find out what to call it. Clematis is its name, and I highly recommend it. It is a climber, and gets bigger (meaning more and more flowers) every year. Someone actually asked me once if it was real. As if I would display fake flowers outside. (I think you have to be at least 75 before you start doing that.)
Picture #2 is everyone’s favorite, the Hydrangea. I’ve always wanted one, and now I have three. This charmer was the first to bloom, so here it is. I understand the color of the flowers depends on the pH of the soil, so we’ll have to experiment with that for next year. I want it to be that pretty blue color.
I noticed a few roses just starting to open today, so you’ll be seeing braggy pictures of those soon. All of this is one of the benefits of buying an old house — pretty things you didn’t have to plant yourself. Conversely, one of the liabilities of an old house is you have to contend with plants you didn’t plant, never would have planted, and can never get rid of. Read on:
As a public service, there are a couple of things I must insist you never plant. Every year at this time, our out-of-control, viney groundcover gets little purple flowers on it, and people say, Oh I love your periwinkle.
No, no, no people! Do not plant this! Also known as vinca major, our periwinkle does have lovely little blossoms for a VERY SHORT TIME in the spring, and the glossy green leaves are attractive. But, the stuff is nearly impossible to control, growing out in every direction (on the ground, not up) and close to indestructible, should you ever change your mind about having it in your garden. The only way I would even consider planting it is if you are in desperate need of a thick groundcover and have serious barriers to contain it.
The next one is worse than periwinkle and my gardening nemesis…let me introduce you to Satan’s horticultural creation: Virgina Creeper.
I should explain that people plant this stuff because it can cover things like ugly walls and chain-link fences in a very short period of time. Also, it turns a dramatic red color in the fall, which is somewhat hard to come by in Utah. I guess some people probably like its looks in the summer, too — I think it’s hideous. Just today, a friend told me it looks kind of like Cannabis, which I’m pretty sure isn’t a vine. I guess the leaves do share a resemblance. In the winter, all of the leaves fall off, and you’re left with a bunch of ugly, dead-looking vines.
Everything I said about the periwinkle, multiply that by ten for Virginia Creeper. It’s called creeper because it creeps across the ground, up trees, across walls, UNDER the ground. It spreads everywhere. It will choke out and kill other, desirable plants. You will pull it up over and over again, but it will not die. It is the ugly, green Phoenix of the plant world. Also, I’ve heard some people have a poison-oak type reaction to it — clearly I do not, since I have spent hours and hours of my life yanking it out of the ground, and haven’t seen a rash yet. If you ever plant this, you will be very, very sorry.
And now I’ve done my good deed for the day.