Dear Readers. there are some plants that other people seem to be able to grow in abundance, but which are a fail in my garden. I’ve always liked the idea of growing some of the single- flowered dahlia varieties because they are so good for pollinators, but they get eaten to death by slugs in the back garden, and blasted to oblivion in the front garden, however often I water them (my front garden is south-facing and gets the sun all day). When I read in the plant catalogues that a particular variety is ‘one of the very best dahlias for pots, flowering without cease for four months at a stretch’ I could cry. I wonder why it is that I always yearn most for the plants that are the most reluctant to be happy in the garden.And in spite of planting numerous bluebells, in the ‘green’ and as bulbs, last year this was the only one that flowered. I know they’re slow to establish, so maybe this year I’ll have two.

English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

I’ve tried this cow parsley relative, Ammi majus, because I thought it might be as shade-tolerant as the ‘real’ cow parsley, but it wasn’t – it grew but was a bit weak and wobbly, put out one sad flower and then capsized. This year I am going to grow some ‘real’ cow parsley (something else that I suspect I’ll never have to plant again), but more of that tomorrow.

Ammi majus (Photo by H.Zell)

I am definitely going to have yet another go with nicotiana this year – I grew a few in pots and they were very popular with the pollinators. Protecting them from the slugs in the garden is another thing altogether, but I refuse to be defeated, especially as the woodland variety is said to be extremely shade-tolerant, smells wonderful and is very attractive to moths.

Nicotiana sylvestris (Woodland tobacco plant) (Photo by H. Storch)

And finally, and most surprisingly because it grows like a veritable weed in other local gardens, I cannot get Mexican fleabane to thrive. What a pain. It self-seeds in cracks up and down the road, it bursts out of walls, I even have one tiny wild plant growing in the darkest part of the alley by the side of my house, but give it tender loving care and what should be an ideal position and, in my garden at least, it expires like La Dame aux Camellias in the opera. Ox-eye daisies do something similar – when we first moved into the house we had a magnificent showing of the plants beside the pond, but after they died back they never appeared again.

Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) (Photo by Forest and Kim Starr)

I have generally been remarkably lucky with my garden – plants often grow in places where they shouldn’t, and many of them are very accepting of my ineptitude. I wonder if every gardener has plants that ‘should’ thrive in their gardens, but which just refuse to ‘take’? And do they become the plants that the gardener most wants to succeed with, or does it make more sense to accept it and move on to something that will be happy? Let me know your personal experience, dear readers – gardening is definitely a learning experience, and a communal one too.




6 thoughts on “..Misses….

  1. Anne

    Over three decades ago our garden was a desert of cacti and gravel. Years of drought killed off the exotic shrubs and all the roses. Having come from a semi-desert, we planted trees and more trees. We now have a forest of them: tall (and very green and beautiful at the moment). I envisioned beds of bright flowers and have planted packets of seeds and punnets of seedlings over the years with minimal success. I continue to do so, but have learned to welcome whatever seeds itself here courtesy of the birds or the wind. I have reduced my focus to one sunny patch and make grand plans for the rest … it is lovely to dream.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      It is lovely to dream, isn’t it….there’s something about looking to the future that feels so important at the moment. In many places, even the smallest garden is a real refuge for our beleaguered wildlife, and I know that you have a wonderful selection of critters of all shapes and sizes in your garden!

  2. AlisonC

    My friend reckons cosmos are really easy to grow from seed but I tried about 5 batches last year and all vanished without trace. Apparently mice like them so I’m going to have one more try in a plastic bag… On the other hand, the friend claims not to be able to grow calendulas!

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I’m a bit hit and miss with Cosmos too, though I have a friend who literally throws them into the ground and they all pop up like magic!

      1. AlisonC

        Grrr 🙂 I’m slightly ambivalent about them because I’m trying to focus more on native plants, but they are quite good for pollinators I think, plus my grandma used to grow them (again without any effort at all).

  3. Andrea Stephenson

    I scattered some wildflower seeds in a trough a couple of years ago and last year got loads of lovely ox-eye daisies, but it was something else the previous year – I’ll be interested to see what we get this year. I planted a mahonia and although it seems to be okay, it hasn’t flowered yet…


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