Thursday, March 26, 2009

They're Not Invasive! They're Exuberant!

I was walking through my own garden this morning with a cup of coffee, just sort of roaming (as much as one can "roam" on a half acre). It was too wet to work in someone else's garden today, since the skies were opening every fifteen minutes. As I looked around, I realized that I have accumulated lots of those dreaded plants that every garden snob hates; I like to call them "exuberant," instead of invasive.

The Akebia is already half way up the poles of the pergola, and the scent was awesome. It's one of those things that garden snobs say, "You grow that???" To add insult to injury, I have porcelain vine (AKA crazy weed) growing up the other pole (that's it in the picture above). I have never found anything else with such beautiful berries.

I seem to now have six forsythia bushes growing in different spots. Is there anything as happy in the gray of winter? I planted two, and don't truly know where the others came from, but they aren't bothering anyone, certainly not me.

Then there is the Mahonia, with those awesome butter yellow blossoms in January, followed by the berries than look like hanging clumps of blue grapes until the birds get them. The Eleagnus ("Ugly Agnes") really needs a good haircut, since she's looking more like Medusa, with those gangly shoots that appear out of nowhere, and reach out to grab small children. (I haven't seen the little boy from next door recently......)

The huge clumps of Yellow Cannas (I would love to say they're a "cultivar," but they're just yellow) seem to swell more each year. Another plant that gets zero attention from me, and blooms its heart out in summer.

I tell people I'm going to thin out some of the yarrow this year, since the clumps now run together in various shades and colors, but I'm really can never have too much yarrow.

I was excited to see all of the new sprouts of Verbena Bonarensis, which I like to think of as "punctuation marks" around the perennial bed. This is a plant that everyone should have in their garden somewhere. Just buy one, since you'll have ten next year!

If Alice's Cleome and the Verbena B. ever cross-pollinate, I'll have no choice but to move!


  1. Verbena Bonariensis, Cleome, Yarrow. Oh it must be awful for you!

    Do you winter mulch the Cannas, (I'm not sur what zone you're in).


  2. I'm in Zone 7, and am just really bad about giving the cannas ANY care! They get an annual haircut and a little cleaning up in the spring, but nothing else!

  3. Interesting. Akebia are not invasive (or exuberant) here. Forsythia do spread, but so far mine haven't, and they're pretty easy to keep in check (or divide!). Cannas don't overwinter here. We have mahonia, but not the same species. And I do so love Verbena bonarensis! They self seed themselves around my garden and I think they look great wherever they come up. I like thinking of them as punctuation makrs, too.

  4. I have both the akebia and mahonia and don't find them invasive at all. I've never grown the porcelain berry but it is so pretty. I just purchased 3 Verbena Bonarensis this morning! I've been looking for them for years but no one seemed to have them until now.

  5. My mahonia has not spread, either, though everyone in this area tells me it will invade the whole property. In three years, no spreading. Where I have the akebia, there is lots of room for it to spread, so I'm hoping it is "exuberant". It's good to know that yours stays under control.

    You will LOVE the Verbena!

  6. This zone 5 gardener is envious of everyone living in zones warmer than his. But I wouldn't go overboard with yarrow, cleome yes.

  7. Unfortunately in Zone 7, we don't have a choice about going overboard with either of them!

  8. I have many "exuberant" plants as well, and would not garden without them. I just keep the pruners and the compost bucket close at hand.