Sunday, September 13, 2015

Saying goodbye

It's time to pull the trigger.

Some of my plants are not performing or are getting to be invasive. I've been in denial about some of them for years but it's time.

On the Pharm (front yard), I have two different problems:

The Aster 'Alma Potschke' has something wrong with it. I've been in denial about this plant for about five years or so. I used to think that the brown leaves and stems were indicating that it needed more water, but even in years when I watered it a lot, it still looked like this.

The entire bottom of the plant looks dead.

Leaves turning yellow

As a primary part of the front garden, and a plant you see as you walk up to my house, I just can't keep this ugliness around anymore. I don't know if it's a fungus or what, but it's got to go, which is too bad because when it's in bloom, it's a bright, eye-catching plant. So now I'm on the hunt for a medium-size, fall (or repeat) blooming perennial.

On the side of my front porch, I've had two very vigorous silver lace vines. They climbed up a trellis, kept the front door cool in the summer, and were only a pain when I had to cut them down at the end of the year because they were SO big.

In better times.

This is how the vines did this year:

The remaining vine on the left.

I accidentally pulled one out while weeding, which shows how dead it was. The other, as you can see, is still in the ground but doing absolutely nothing. Maybe this past winter, one of the coldest on record, was too much for them. In any case, now I'm on the hunt for a (vigorous but not overly so) vine for this area for next year.

In the back yard, I have a potential disease problem and an invasive problem.

I'm scared to even write this, lest it really be true: I think all of my echinacea have aster yellows. I first noticed it a few years ago in the front yard and pulled out the offending plants. But then this year, it seemed like every single one - front yard, side, back yard - had the tell-tale puff of green on the seed head.

Last year. In better times.

This is how they look right now:

They all fizzled out a couple of weeks earlier than last year. It's possible that that's due to the dry conditions this summer. I really like echinacea. They're a staple of my garden and I don't want to have to rip them all out. I'll continue to monitor them and hope for the best next year, though I suspect I'll be talking about being in denial next fall as I rip them out.

The spiderwort in the back yard are now getting invasive. I'm finding them in the hell strip by the road, for crying out loud. I have 5-6 of them evenly spaced in the back yard and, in late spring, they're often the only thing in bloom.

Two different colors, on the left and right, still in bloom in summer.

When they die, though, they leave big gaping spaces that I've been working on trying to hide (somewhat unsuccessfully). I don't think I'll be too sad to see these go, especially since it will probably take me a few years to completely rid my gardens of them.  In their place, I need to find any sort of late spring/early summer perennial that doesn't look like death after it's done blooming for the year.

They've provided me with more joy than inconvenience, but it's time to cut the cord (and it's a great excuse for fall plant shopping).


  1. Hmmm. The aster and the silver lace vines are two plants I've always thought about adding. Too bad they're behaving like clunkers. Good for you to just heave them, I always try and find a better place, better care, or better neighbors and then still end up not liking the effect!
    I wonder if your coneflowers just have mites. I've heard you can just clip the effected blooms and get some control that way.
    and I don't think I'd plant spiderwort....

    1. Don't plant spiderwort!

      The silver lace vine was good for probably 7 years or so. It was quite vigorous, but I think our absurdly cold winter did it in.

  2. I think the asters might need soil that is more acidic. Buy a super cheapo soil pH meter and check the soil. I bet the concrete near the asters is leaching lime into the soil, making it too alkaline. You can correct the problem with soil acidifier. As for the coneflowers, there is no cure for aster yellows so just pull them. It's spread by a leaf hopper. But if you're not convinced they have yellows, add a bunch of compost to the soil and keep them moister next year. :o)

    1. Thank goodness for you and your science information :)

      The coneflowers get one more year to see if it really is aster yellows, though I may need an emergency mid-summer plant as backup by next July...

  3. My Echinacea had aster yellows and I had to pull them, though they had been a staple. Have the cones been looking weird, like with little green eruptions? If so it is definitely aster yellows. The good news is that I have lots of plants from the aster family and Echinacea is the only one that comes down with this disease. An Aster-like plant you could try that blooms in fall is Boltonia - there is a pink cultivar that is supposed to be pretty nice.

    1. Yes, those little green eruptions. I am in complete denial about them. I pulled the original offenders a few years ago and then bam - all of them in all parts of the yard had the disease this year.

      Thanks for the suggestion - I'll look into the Boltonia!