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.
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.
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.
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.
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.