‘Estate Agent’ plant descriptions
Small Garden Design: Read plant labels carefully!
I have made many mistakes when gardening, most of which you learn from, but although you do learn, some of the mistakes made can be a right royal pain in the do-da’s to sort out! The most annoying mistake I ever made, was buying about 20 bulbs of Allium Triquetrum, now I love Alliums, it said in the brochure, ‘good for naturalising‘.
I also bought Briza ( a quaking grass – liked the sound of this one too), however be careful when the term ‘naturalising’ is used, they are great at naturalising…..everywhere in the garden.
The 20 bulbs turned into 2000 after about 18 months, and they began to swamp everything. Ten years later I am still trying to get rid of them! Briza is a pretty grass, with a lovely nodding beehive shaped seed heads, the problem was all the kids in the neighbourhood loved pulling them off and chucking them around the garden, so they went everywhere too. Now some plants naturalise in a pretty way, bluebells, frittileria, lily of the valley, forget me not etc and some don’t, so just think about where you want something to grow, before you buy.
The other plant label that can sometimes be a ‘misnomer’ is ‘good ground cover‘, now obviously there are plants that are great for hiding unsightly ground, but what you must consider is that these types of plants are usually fairly tough ‘grow anywhere’ specimens, so if you plant them in lovely rich soil they romp away and generally swamp a whole load of other lovely plants.
Only ever use ‘ground cover plants’ in areas that nearly nothing else will grow, that way, you use their toughness to your advantage. A classic ground cover plant to be aware of is vinca – in good soil it can and will take over, but worming its way through tough tree roots in shade and it becomes a useful and pretty plant.