Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Calling All "Garden Snobs"

The glow of the Vernal Equinox will soon bathe us in happy garden thoughts. In the short time before that happens, let's vent about the flowers and bushes we don't love so much.

What ornamental plant sets your teeth on edge when you see it in a garden, or even on a friend's seed list? What proudly displayed botanical specimen makes you fantasize about applying a judicious spray of Round-Up™? [No, Scotts isn't paying me for product placement in this post, but they can go ahead and contact me!] 

I've got a theory, and I contend that the cringe-making plants fall into one of the following categories:

Too bright a color. Some find fault with the vivid yellow forsythia hybrids for that reason. 

Too far from the original color. Flowers that trigger a startle reflex when one sees them--mauve daylilies, for instance.

Too strange a form. Double peony tulips are odd--they don't look like tulips and they certainly aren't peonies. I'd like them better if they had a different name.

Most of you are broad-minded gardeners; surely, though, there is some breach of good taste in the botanical world that you long to correct. Come on, tell.

You have to name two. First, a plant so dreadful that you believe it should be removed from commerce so no one can buy it anymore. Second, the merely annoying, a plant that makes you turn quickly away.

I'll start. 

Dreadful: Double Narcissi, all varieties. Those mangled darlings look like someone attacked them with an egg beater. If you don't believe me, study the photo above. 

Merely annoying: Anthuriums. Go back to the jungle, you red and pink anthuriums, with all deliberate speed. In a post-petroleum world the flowers might possibly be useful as a plastic substitute.

And now that I've offended many of you (I'm sorry, I just had to get it off my chest), I hope that someone else will join me. This is sort of like a Gardeners Anonymous meeting, "My name is Daffodil Planter and I am a garden snob".  Will you stand up and tell the truth too? 


Blossom said...

Sorry, but I love flowers. I can't think of any that annoys me. I might get rid of a plant because it has thorns and might be dangerous to kids around .. and things such as that.

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

LOL very good, I will think on this and get back to you.

Darla said...

Goldenrod! Just don't care for any aspect of it.
Lavender colored Crepe (Crape) Myrtles make me want to vomit!

tina said...

Gooseneck loosestrife for its invasiveness. Ditto houttenyia. They need to be banned, or come with a warning. Bamboo another one too!

Sylvia (England) said...

I think you had better ask the plants! There are some that don't like me and refuse to grow or flower. Some are too large or rampant for my garden but if I had a bigger plot... I can think of one - merely annoying: Palms in an English garden, there plant labels should read, house plant only!

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Jenny said...

A fun topic! I share your hesitations about "double" flowers. Why does "fluffier" mean "better"? Though it might be okay if the plant had fluffy tendencies to start with. But I digress. (1) Dreadful: double trillium. I saw this in a White Flower Farm catalog, and I gagged. (2) Merely annoying: dwarf Alberta spruce, especially in pots. Poor thing, you're a mutant white spruce.

EB said...

It's not actually the plants so much as what people do with them that tends to bug me. Anything in rows nearly always sets me off - not if it's just one row round the edge of a bed, but lots of rows. Fine for veg or for a park but not otherwise.

I've thought of one plant though - Fuchsias. I like the small-flowerd ones only. In the hedges in Cornwall and Cork they're wonderful, but the grotesque globular, ballerina in frilly-knickers things you get.... grrrr!

Dyed heathers. I suspect I don't even need to say why...

And the Show Garden phenomenon: mature plants crammed in, off the shelf, all colour-coded but no soul....

I feel so much better now ;)

Michelle said...

Oh boy, here's my chance to vent. There are 3 of them in my garden that I didn't plant and am trying to get rid of.

Fortnight Lily, whoever in their right mind thought that looking at the scraggly, snail haven of half dead looking foliage was worth enduring just to see that average looking lily-like flower? Yuck. The ultimate median plant. You can repeatedly run over it with a 2 ton SUV and not kill it.

Vinca Major. Properly classified as a noxious weed in California. Also SUV proof.

Centranthus Ruber. The ones growing wild around here are a noxious shade of pink that clashes with everything. It spreads seeds everywhere, growing out of walls and walks. Do I need to add that you also can kill that one with an SUV.

And the deer don't even like any of the above. Darn.

Oh wait, make that 4 plants. There's a huge bushy stinky variety of Tagetes popping up all over the place. I could tolerate it if it didn't have such noxious foliage. At least the good bugs like to hang out around it.

Wow, that was fun! Can't wait to see what other gardeners loathe.

PlantingOaks said...

Is this an early spring flower game? Or a general case?
I'm so happy for green in the spring, I can't think of anything I dislike at that phase.

In the summer though, my greatest dislike is for mophead hydrangeas. They're just so lumpy and common looking. I think it bothers me particularly that the flowers last so long - they don't change like the rest of the garden. Lacecap types still aren't my favorite, but they're tolerable.

I also don't like sedum or yarrows, for no particular reason I can think of. Also I think purple coneflower looks strange and distasteful, which is a shame since it's so nice for birds. Black eyed susans are quite nice however.

In the mild distaste column, I think peonies with the pom-pom top, and a few larger petals around the bottom look silly, and should be replaced by ones with more consistent petaling.

Finally, I don't like barberries because they aren't nearly pretty enough to make up for their thorns, and I don't like those stupid kale things landscapers plant ornamentally in winter, because after they freeze, then they thaw and rot and stink. However, I feel these are justifiable dislikes and not in the spirit of the competition.

Apparently, I'm even more of an opinionated snit than you are.

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

I am afraid to admit that one of my friends called me a plant snob. This is because I really don't like "summer bedding" especially in rows, and even more especially all the colours of the rainbow. Why, I ask myself Why?

The thing - (well there are a few) - but the main one that should be sent back to the jungle is anything ornamental with sharp thorns, but then as I work as a gardener - this might be because I am fed up of being attacked by plants.

I love everyone's comments - good post.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how fun!! Now that you mention it, there are more than a few... i SO agree with Michelle on the fortnight lily, by the way... but at least the flowers are pretty when they're all out in force...

DREADFUL: Euryops. A truly sociopathic plant. Its puts on a pretty face to get bought, but then ...ugh! The way it does the splits to show off its dirty underwear is truly disgusting.

MERELY ANNOYING: Gerbera daisies. I know everyone loves them but they're just too Barbie for me.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, I bet you get a stern warning from Blotanical when they find out you encouraged plant dissing for any reasons other than invasiveness, allergens, or non-nativeness.

My first thought was I don't hate anything, just icky combinations. Then I read Michelle's choice of fortnight lily - couldn't agree more. Karen dislikes bedding plants plants in bright clashing colors planted in rows - yup. But Anne calling Euryops dreadful - I hate this plant so much I had literally erased its name from my memory but it's all come crashing back now.

Also hate just about anything salmon colored. Peach, yes. Orange, yes. Salmon no.

Dia de los diy said...

I really dislike Gladiolus, Begonias and those ornamental cabbages that everyone seems to like to put in their yard on my block lately.

Daffodil Planter said...

We've got quite a list going here! My friends on Facebook weigh in against: alliums, paperwhites, marigolds, red hot pokers, red/white/blue petunias planted together, and damp climate shade gardens planted in dry climates. Also garish, overbred roses (that from a rosarian).

AJP said...

Dreadful: Foxtails, clover...

Merely Annoying? Messy trees that do not produce anything edible--they belong in the forest. That includes my neighbors' redwoods and cedars which distribute their droppings in my yard...they look fine from a distance.

I do like my red hot pokers though, as I planted them next to the naked ladies...a visual pun, so to speak. Wonder if anyone will notice?


VW said...

Ooh, this is fun! I'm really trying not to be a plant snob, but I'll stoop to that level here. I really dislike the overbred dahlias. Some merely look like cheap plastic flowers, and others look like they came from an alien ship. I like the simple little collarette-form (spelling?) ones, though. Overgrown, prickly evergreens are awful. Marigolds are yucky. But shhh, don't tell - if a friend proudly shows me a bed with marigolds included, I'll find something nice to say because gardening is admirable, even if tastes disagree.

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Jan said...

Scotch Broom is a menace to society. Those little yellow flowers make me sneeze!

Town Mouse said...

I actually find just about anything at least amusing or interesting, even if I might not plant it in my garden. If someone wants to wear pink heels or dye their hair purple or plant gladiolas or... I'm all for it. There's too much fashion policing in this country. Why be boring?
That said, I getannoyed when certain really invasive plants show up in nursery's or in the garden. Just don't get me started on Pampas grass or vinca, or Scotch broom or...

Daffodil Planter said...

Thank you all for participating!

It's fascinating to see what pushes your botanical buttons (except for kind Blossom who is totally tolerant). I am quite enchanted by some of the plants others of you hate. Clearly, we cannot share an allotment!

A warm welcome to PlantingOaks and Dia de los DIY. Thanks for wading in; It's not always so rough and tumble over here.

We are apparently united against Scotch Broom, which is the invasive and flammable scourge of Nevada County. Stories vary about how it got here, but the most popular version is that it was used as packing material in the cases of whisky that were shipped here to the gold miners.

So, here's a (whisky) toast to us! May no one ever turn up on your doorstep with one of the plants that you mentioned! See you on the Equinox.