Be honest: are you taking care of plants in your garden that you don’t actually like? Maybe it’s something your aunt gave to you, or your mother-in-law really likes it, or it was there when you moved in? If you are as obsessed with plants as I am, and study all corners of your garden to figure out where you can shoehorn in more, you need to decide whether these are good enough reasons to look after something that smells bad, bullies its neighbours, or simply leaves you cold.
Here’s a quick list of plants that have felt the hard edge of my spade this year:
French lavender: the showy purple wings aren’t enough to make me hold onto a plant which doesn’t have that pure lavender scent. By contrast, the English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’ has a heart-stoppingly beautiful fragrance, even before the flowers come out.
Hardy geraniums: I love the geranium “Johnson’s blue”, but earlier this year I pulled out a huge clump of a different hardy geranium I’d been given which had the most awful resinous scent. What a great feeling — and I immediately recognised how I could better use the space it had been sprawling across.
Rosa Tess of the Urbervilles: the first time I saw the David Austin roses in their free catalogue I couldn’t believe that something could be so beautiful. So many of his varieties have layer upon layer of petals, and Tess is one of the most ravishing to look at. But it has that myrrh scent which to me recalls medicinal ointment. No thanks.
Neglected fern: I actually really like this little fern but it had been lost beneath an overgrown Garrya elliptica, which I’ve steadily been pruning back to the wall over the last few years. Both plants were in situ when I moved in, and I think that stopped me interfering with them too much. But the Garrya had to be pulled right back this year, as I look for more sunny places to grow vegetables (near the Garrya I’ll be growing the dwarf French bean, Masterpiece). I yanked out the fern with a bit of root ball and potted it up, and I’m happy and a bit surprised to see it hasn’t died. I’ll find it a nice home elsewhere in the garden.
Eucalyptus gunnii: my sister sent me a tree in a box when we first moved into this house, but even with yearly coppicing this plant just didn’t fit into our garden. I have composted it (with my sister’s blessing).
If your garden is a blank canvas, you may be thinking harder about how to fill it up than what to purge, but promise yourself now that you will only grow what you like. It’s a great time of year to visit gardens, garden centres or public parks to see what appeals to you. Choose wisely, and plant your kind of plants. You won’t regret it.
Is there anything you feel you can’t get rid of in your garden? I’d like to hear about it.