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Invasion of the Garden Snatchers

Updated on May 20, 2009

I'm one of those garden nuts who can't pass up any opportunity to visit a nursery, a church plant sale, or just a friend's garden (especially when that friend likes sharing). I lived in frozen northern Alberta for 30 years, and when we moved to the West Coast, somehow my plant mania was triggered. Hey, things are green here for months at a time - late February to late November most years. For a Canadian, that's one humdinger of a growing season for a plant nut.

Plants that Re-seed

Monster One - Crocosmia

Several years ago, I was visiting my mom-in-law, who also liked gardening. In a container on the deck was a plant I'd never seen before - sword-shaped leaves with absolutely gorgeous arching sprays of what looked like brilliant orange-red mini-glads. (Only now do I realize how smart she was to keep this monster in a container.) I was smitten. I had to have it!

She couldn't recall the name, so we couldn't just go out and buy it. Next spring, while visiting her, we stopped in at a church plant sale, and there, in a 6 inch black plastic pot were... the same sword shaped leaves! I grabbed it, took it home, and popped it in the ground.

Crocosmia - beautiful flowers, great ground cover, but watch out!
Crocosmia - beautiful flowers, great ground cover, but watch out!

By the next spring, my crocosmia (I'd found out the name, although it seemed to sport an alias of Montbretia) had spread from a measly 6 inch clump to a two foot in diameter clump. The flowers were gorgeous - hey, it looks so nice, let's move some to another spot! 

My little monster crocosmia has expanded to several clumps (nine, to be exact), each at least 3 feet in diameter. And that's not counting the parts I've dug up and discarded. It spreads by underground rhizomes which form bulbs, and can cover a pretty impressive area in no time flat.

But the flowers are lovely, and if you have a difficult sunny spot, put some in. It'll cover it in no time. Just be prepared.

Monster 2 - Cal Poppy

My second monster is one of my favorite annuals - the California poppy (Escholtzia). Green feathery foliage and brilliant orange flowers cheer up any bed. No matter how hard I try to nip off those needle-like seed pods, I miss a few. One flower of one plant can shoot out over 30 seeds, and presto - next spring, you'll see 30 little carrot-like plants starting.

They'll fill your beds in no time. They'll grow in your gravel pathways, or between your pavers or crop up in the lawn. I'm still pulling them from some of my veggie beds, even though I planted the mom plant there several years ago. Now, I must admit, I love these little devils. I really don't want to get rid of them, just to fence them in a bit.

Cheery gold poppies - they'll grow anywhere!
Cheery gold poppies - they'll grow anywhere!

Rose Campion - Invader

Another garden snatcher is rose campion. I admired it in a neighbor's garden one year (Jill is not a Gardener - she just does the minimum). This leggy fuzzy baby had two things going for it - the deer hated it, and the magenta flowers were eye-catching. Also, the grey-green fuzzy foliage was kind of different and nice.

So - next year, I planted a few seeds. I think my gardens, and most of my yard ( I live on 8 acres, with 2 acres cleared) must have about a million of these fuzzy little guys coming up all over. And they find the climate here so nice they have decided to become perennials!

Rose Campion - annual? perennial? bi-annual? All three.
Rose Campion - annual? perennial? bi-annual? All three.

How to Expand Your Garden

Shasta Daisy

Number four on my list is the Shasta Daisy - great looking white daisies, bright yellow centers, with strappy leathery leaves of dark green. A great cut flower in late summer. Another plant that my mom-in-law had in her garden - and I admired.

From a little handful of seeds, it has spread into the wilds of my upper field, into the crevices in my rock steps, and now is (with my approval) filling spaces in my latest beds. I'm keeping it under control in my flower beds, but I'll never be able to eradicate it from that little field.

Lovely, but rampant.
Lovely, but rampant.

I know there are other invaders out there - foxglove, columbine, poppy, feverfew, just to name a few.

So - be careful what you wish for - you just may get it - over and over and over...


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