Friday, September 12, 2008

Garden disappointments

Or what in the world is this thing growing in my yard?

I already mentioned how happy I am with my new purchase Volcano phlox. On the flip side, I've had a couple disappoints this season. The first was Gnus Flash. The photo on the left is the iris I thought I bought. The photo on the right is the iris I actually got. I bought it locally at one of our boutique garden centers. It wasn't blooming but I fell for the photo.

There is no way to prevent something like this and I'm not overly upset about it. I did do a double take when it first started to bloom. I thought, where in the world did that come from. Oh well, it isn't ugly, but it isn't Gnus Flash. I really wanted that dramatic black, white and tan bloom.

I know this happens when you buy from Walmart or Menards or HomeDepot. You don't usually pay a premium price at those box stores so it is easier to forgive them;) Box stores offer a guarantee too. The garden boutique guarantees the plant until the cashier grabs the money from your hand. Then you and the plant are on your own.

Another kind of disappointing plant was sea holly (eryngium). It was unusual and I loved it for about a week. See the photo below, it's gorgeous. Then it lost it's blue color and looked like a pasture thistle. I don't know if that's normal or if there was a disease problem. I bought it to dry for winter arrangements. It isn't stellar in that department. I'm going back out to find some wild teasil to dry instead.

Are any of you disappointed with some garden plants or garden related items this season? Maybe you didn't get what you wanted or something underperformed?


tina said...

So disappointing when things like that happen! And what a bummer the store did not stand by their sale! I don't think I'd return. I've had some disappointments but mainly because I planted the right plant in the wrong spot. Sigh. Yes, it happens. Then of course the plant peters out.

Rose said...

I have to admit I like the iris the way it turned out, Marnie! But I understand that when you buy a plant specifically for its coloring, you expect to get what is advertised. I think I've recorded a lot of my disappointments this year:) Probably my biggest disappointment has been my tomatoes, but that had nothing to do with the seller. The wire baskets with cocoa mats that I planted had to be my most disappointing purchase--they never looked good at any time this season.

I've been tempted many times to try the sea holly after seeing it in many gardening catalogs. Now I won't waste my money:)

Dog_geek said...

We've had our share of garden disappointments, too. We bought a bunch of red astilbe a few years ago and planted it in several shady spots around the house. None of it has done well. It is never happy. If it gets a little too dry, it burns to a crisp in no time flat. If it gets a little too wet, it rots off at ground level. Every spring it comes up and looks promising, but then almost none of it survives to bloom, and the little bit that did survive was pink, not red. I'm thinking about digging it out and replacing it next year.

Cordwood Cabin said...

I know the feeling on garden disappointments (although in my case it's over a wet summer ruining a series of Connecticut Field pumpkin vines).

By all means, check out a copy of Edwin Drood -- it's a great Dickens' manuscript (except, of course for the missing ending!). But it's worth reading anyway, simply to imagine what might have happened next.

kd said...

Expecting something truly unusual and getting something that's merely pretty must have been extremely frustrating! Hopefully you'll get another chance to purchase one somewhere more reliable.


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Tina, I know what you mean. I won't buy another iris locally.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rose. My tomatoes are the worst crop I've ever had too. Just a bad year.

Do you use baby diapers in your planters? I've heard it works well, but have never tried it myself.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Dog Geek. I gave up on astilbe years ago. Too much water. But they are so pretty.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Cordwood Cottage, that's a shame about the pumpkins. It's a long time to wait for another chance to grow them.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi KD, I may or may not try to get another. I want so many different plants and I can't have them all;)

BeadedTail said...

I've just started thinking about adding to my garden but am having a hard time figuring out what to plant. It never occurred to me that I may put a lot of thought into it and get a particular plant only to have it turn out to be something else!

RURAL said...

In utter honesty, I am really disapointed that as a seasoned veggie gardener, mine looked the worst of all the community condo plots. First time beginner gardeners had more tomatoes than I did. Well there is always next year.
PS I do love both Iris.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beadedtail. That kind of thing happens. If you get the wrong plant, you might turn out to like it really well. I've been pretty lucky except for this iris. I've heard people complain about bare root roses bought in the spring from the box stores. Sometimes they are not the color you expected. So they cost $3, who cares. Don't let it scare you.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Jen. My tomatoes are horrible this year too. Late start, bad weather. Sometimes I get lazy and think I can take shortcuts. Like the year I didn't put enough rebar on the cages. The plants were over 5 feet tall and a bad storm blew half of them over (cage and all) and broke the stems. My bad.

walk2write said...

So far the plants have not disappointed. I'm just that way about myself. I see something I like and pounce on it before I evaluate its characteristics. I bought an elephant ear plant earlier this year from a local nursery and was assured it would not become enormous. Why oh why am I such a trusting soul when it comes to plants? They lure me in and then I'm hooked before I recognize the danger!

flydragon said...

This year I bought some asiatic lily bulbs called Cola, because they were only supposed to get 2feet tall which is what I wanted for that spot. Well they kept growing and growing till they got to be 4 & 1/2 feet tall, and I was very disappointed until they bloomed. They were loaded with such big gorgeous flowers that I happily tied them to the downspout to keep them upright. Now that's a disappointment I can live with.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Walk2Write, guess their idea of enormous was a lot bigger than yours.

I want an elephant ear, or maybe the black magic taro which is similar. I'm afraid the wind will destroy it but I'm going to try anyway.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Flydragon, that's a happy kind of surprise. Try something you wouldn't have and be pleased with the results. I like your idea of making the best of it. In a couple years I'll be giving away a lot of Not Gnus Flash because iris multiply like rabbits here.

kari and kijsa said...

We like the way it turned out too...but it is hard when you are dissappointed because it doesn't meet expectations! We are so excited to be celebrating our one-year anniversary (and a fun giveaway!) Thank you for being such a wonderful part of the last year!

kari & kijsa

Rhonda said...

Last fall I killed myself putting in these gorgeous pink tulips...about 50 of them. I was so excited when they began popping up through the earth this past spring. Everyday I would check for blooms and then one day i noticed that the closed blooms seemed more orange than pink..thought perhaps it would changed when they opened. There wasn't one pink in the entire bunch..all of the tulips were orange, red, red and white and pink nada! The tulips were beautiful, and I sort of liked the yellow, but the other clashed terribly with the soft pinks and lavenders of my spring garden. It's extremely frustrating when something like this happens. Your iris is lovely even if it wasn't what you expected.

Rambling Woods said...

I am not a gardener and have not really done anything here yet..but I did plant coneflower and they did come up...

ChrisND said...

I can relate, although I haven't bought a plant only to find a different one. I have planted wrong seeds before. This year the there are three disappointing performers: 1) The new cucumbers are very small plants and only produced two fruits (on two plants). 2) Planted some ornamental sunflowers and they all seem to have a blight or something. 3) Decided to try spaghetti squash. We have managed to get two fruits growing, but the vines don't look very well - probably wilt from a squash borer.

Anonymous said...

I think we all have had our share of disappointments with plants. I bought a cucumber that turned out to be a yellow squash, a Snow Queen Clematis that turned out purple, and I'm not happy with the Forever & Ever Hydrangeas at all. But what the heck. I love squash so that turned out okay. I love purple so not having a white Clematis was okay. And the hydrangeas I'm going to move somewhere else & see if they fair better next year. That is the good thing about the big box stores, the guarantee.

Gail said...


Thank you for asking!

I am completely surprised and disappointed that I can't seem to grow cosmos or Hollyhock! Zinnias love me but cosmos, especially the pink varieties don't even sprout! Neither do Hollyhock, even the first year plants I put in last year...did nothing!

How frustrating that any merchant does not stand by their plant material! The other one was quite dramatic looking and they should replace it.


A Wild Thing said...

What a beautiful iris, unlike any I've seen...too bad. But I love wild teasle and am going on a hunt soon myself...if it ever stops raining.


marmee said...


we did a veggie garden this year.
our squash and zucchini did not produce at all. but we are novices.
so se la vive.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marnie, I want that Gnus Flash too! What a beauty. You are right about the eryngium, if you were expecting it to dry that blue color, it won't and the blue doesn't even last that long. If you lower your expectations, always a helpful thing, you can learn to appreciate the thistle like qualitites of the dried seed head, with a bonus of baby eryngiums someday. It seems to take two years after you scatter the heads in winter. Some seeds do need two chill periods, hellebores for instance. Anyway, if you ever find Gnus, let me know!

Frances at Fairegarden

Gail said...

It is pretty irritating to purchase a plant and later find out it isn't what was promised. Put me on the list for Not Gnus Flash, it's a nice looking Iris!

Disappointments: Stokesia Peachie's Pick! It was fabulous when it went in the ground but it looks terrible. Maybe a cool winter will revive it for next year.

This is my third attempt to post, they keep disappearing! That's a disappointment with blogger!


Gail said...

Marnie! Erase any and all comments that you wish! I just realized you have comment approval on! Gail

100 Thoughts of Love said...

I kind of like the iris that you got...but then i lean towards more traditional colors I guess. I have been terribly dissapointed in my blue plumbago....last year it bloomed prolifically from summer to Christmas; this year it had a scant bloom of blue and nothing since....And I love blue in the garden

Sue Swift said...

I actually rather like that iris!

Thanks so much for leaving me a comment about the screenshot programme.

TC said...

If it's a perennial, I hold judgment until after three years, unless it just up and dies for no apparent reason. Annuals, well, they're done after a year anyway so I don't hold a grudge against them.

Vegetable gardening is a whole other bag of worms, literally. ;~)

At present, I'm holding off on my review of 'Tiger Eyes' sumac for one more year. And I've not added any new plants to the perennial beds, and didn't try new veggies this year.

I think I'm becoming a kind of "slow gardener" to quote a garden writer buddy.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Kari and Kijsa, Congratulations on your one year anniversary!!!! You're ahead of me.

Rhonda, 50 tulips all the wrong color. That would have upset me. It's hard to go out and buy more isn't it. You don't trust you'll get the right ones again.

Hi Michelle, I'll bet you planted the coneflowers for the butterflies and birds. I'm glad they are doing well for you.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Crisnd, some years nothing seem to go just right. I always tell myself next season I'll fix the problems and things will be good;)

Perennial Gardener, That's the right attitude. I've heard mixed things about Forever and Ever. Good luck, I hope you find a spot it likes.

Hi Gail,I haven't tried cosmos, but I'm going to next year. I saw so many beautiful ones on other blogs. Hollyhocks grow like weeds here but the japanese beetles eat them as soon as they bloom. No point in planting them. I say I'm going to grow cosmos, but you never know. Maybe they won't grow here either.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sharon. It's been raining here for three days.

I need to remember to load my heavy duty gloves and pruners in the car. We have a big patch of teasil just down the road from work. Maybe I'll try to scatter some seed near my house.

Hi Marmee, next year will be better, that's what all gardeners say. Don't give up.

Frances, thanks for the tip on the
eryngium. I recently saw something about dyeing dried flowers. I have been wondering if I could put back that blue tint.

Gail, I'm sorry. I had to choose between moderating comments and making commentors do the squiggly letters. I have had spammers post comments so I don't feel I can just allow anything get posted.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Pat, that's a shame. I can't grow plumbago up here but I've seen pictures. It is beautiful.

Hi Sue, Everybody seems to like Not Gnus Flash...but me;) You're welcome, I hope the program is what you needed.

Hi TC, I used to add several new plants each year. Not anymore. Maybe I'm becoming a slow gardener too. I am going to add some next spring. I see so many online other bloggers show pictures of. I want them.

Amy said...

The iris photo reminds me of two iris my parents brought home many years ago. You wouldn't believe how excited they were...until the plants bloomed. Lets just say they were nicknamed "Meconium" and "Death". I actually like yours - I've never seen anything like it. But, the description of the plant you were expecting to get sounds even better :)

Mary said...

I think that I like what you got better than what you wanted. It's very pretty!

Anonymous said...

WOW Marnie! I WANT that iris too! I've never seen one like it before? I totally understand why you'd buy it. I hope you can find the real thing (and when you do let us all know so we can get one too!!) I've had a lot of the same kind of thing happen. Whether it's plants, bulbs, whatever. but I've seen people pick tags out of plants in the nurseries (to read) then put them back not always in the right pots. I suppose it can happen anywhere unfortunately.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

I can see why you were disappointed with that Iris! It's ok, but not what was advertised, but that happens sometimes. Years ago we bought some so-called 'Black Tulips' just for fun, and were disgusted when they bloomed a regular old Darwin Purple the following year! Now we shy away from such things unless we've seen them growing somewhere.

I think you are maybe being a bit harsh on the Eryngium though, because you captured a great shot of it in its blue glory. Ours stays blue a lot longer than yours did, for at least a month usually. But we have 'Miss Wilmot's Ghost' so maybe it was a difference in variety for you. Don't give up on it though... ours took 2-3 yrs to get fully established, and as you saw at my place earlier this summer, she turned into a bit of a thug this year!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Marnie and Gail...
An afterthought after reading your comments about Cosmos and Hollyhocks ... I'd suggest trying the 'Bright Lights' type of Cosmos sulphureus as those are the easiest to get established and they turn into great self seeders as well. Do NOT EVER feed them or plant them in a rich soil or all you will get is lush foliage, especially the ferny leafed variety (C. bipinnatus). Plant them in poor soil in full sun and you'll have the best luck.

Also, planting Hollyhocks from plants is a waste of time and money as they have a tap root and never do well transplanted (unless they are very small seedlings that come up in your garden). Same with Lupines and Foxglove--they must be planted from seeds where they are to grow in place!

Hope that was helpful and not too space consuming, lol. :-)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Amy, LOL, your parents were really disappointed;) Sooner or later I'll find the real Gnus Flash.

Hi Kathleeen, I've seen the same thing in nurseries, people moving or removing tags. But vendors should make the tags easier to see. I'm still looking for the real Gnus Flash, I'll let you know if I find it.

Hi IVG, I'm not going to pull out the Eryngium. It will keep it's place. I just expected more/better/whatever. It still gives some different texture which I like. You mentioned the Cosmos sulphureus awhile ago on your blog I think. That is definitely on my list. I have a big spot that is mostly cleome this year. I want to add cosmos and a few other things next. I like self seeders in some areas. Thanks for your tips.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Ah, the heartbreak of the misnamed plant. I'll never buy another Clematis from a local nursery unless it's in bloom, although the new pots seem to be eliminating that problem for Clematis. I've been very happy with everything I've bought this year except for Solidago 'Little Lemon.' It's not the plant's fault, though. I think I planted it, forgot about it & dug it up thinking it was a different Goldenrod.