If I was a nose-in-the-air gardener, I would say in a superior tone, “Gardening is a learning experience!” I would then proceed to get all didactic (and boring) as I told you the many rules and best practices I had learned while achieving garden mastery.
But since I’m a down-in-the-weeds gardener (pun intended) and certainly no master, I would like to share with you two of my more amusing garden “oopses”!
Growing, Growing, Gone!
In my very first garden (I was 32 at the time), I decided to plant bright orange marigolds. I bought several market packs so that I would have a nice splash of color. I knew from my parents’ yard that marigolds were pretty small plants, so I planted them about three inches apart … in three rows of ten marigolds each. The tag said to plant them ten inches apart, but why would I want all that space between the plants? I wanted an unbroken carpet of brilliant orange!
Well, I got what I wanted, but only until about July. By then, my marigolds were choking each other out as they fought for light … water … air … you know, the basic necessities of garden life.
What had not occurred to me was that my parents’ have a SHADE yard with soil that is made of ROCKS and CLAY. Not exactly prime condition for marigolds!
My yard, on the other hand, was full sun, and my dirt was rich loam (I had actually prepared the beds properly, wonder of wonders). The marigolds were loving it! Until they got a fungal disease that wiped them out because they were so close together that an air molecule would have had a tight squeeze to get between them. Growing, growing … gone!
Bad plant! Bad, bad!
I wanted a mid-size perennial with a long bloom time and thought I had found a prize when I discovered the obedient plant (physostegia, for all you fellow plant-geeks). Pink spires, weeks of bloom, a robust plant that didn’t flop over … what more was there to want?
Well, what I wanted for the next FIVE YEARS was a way to get rid of the blasted thing! I had decided that I didn’t actually care for it as much as I thought I would, so I dug it up at the end of the first summer.
Dozens of little outliers came back the next year, which I ruthlessly pulled out.
The same thing happened the year after that.
And the year after that.
I was pulling out determined little offspring from that one original plant for at least five years. I am convinced that the plant is completely misnamed: it should be the disobedient plant.
Have there been other “oopses” in my yard? Oh, yes! A good “oops!” now and then is all part of gardening fun!
Please comment below and tell us about your gardening oopes! We'd love to hear from you.