Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tales of Yarrow: Performer or Pest?

We have several varieties of Achillea in various spots around the gardens, but the two predominant ones are Achillea millefolium, one (very large) clump of white, as well as several smaller stands of (my favorite) the red variety. We do still have some of the upright yellow Achillea filipendulina, or Fernleaf Yarrow in the back garden, but I'm trying to discourage it, ahem, make it go away because it has crowded out more valuable plants, always falls down (no more staking for me, I've got better things to do!), and just generally has become an annoyance more than a good member of the garden. So ... if I don't just pull it this fall, I won't be sad if it doesn't show up again next year. If it were up to me, I'd banish it to the "cornfield," so to speak....

However, the red and white do have their saving graces, even if they do have a tendency to want to take over their respective neighborhoods. The white variety is by far the most aggressive and if we don't divide our clump next year, we could be facing some serious loss of precious sunny garden space. Still, it has a lot going for it ... it requires virtually no attention, remains attractive through the hot months of summer and is really drought resistant. It attracts lots of bees and butterflies, and even has some herbal value ... I should be really in love with this plant, but curiously enough, I only tend to feel indifferent about it. Yes, it was a traded plant from several years ago, from a friend who gave us some really invasive stuff --some good, such as the phlox-- such as the Lysimachia I profiled back in (I think) July. I just find that it's a bit on the "weedy" side, and wish its red cousin would behave a bit more like it, because that's the one I'm really interested in seeing crawling out of odd spaces in the front boulder bed. It's starting to get there, but just not as quickly as the white has staked out its territory, so we'll just let it do its thing and advance slowly if that's what it wants. But should anyone passing by who mentions liking the white, I'll gladly send them home with a pot or two to get going in their gardens....

That was pretty long preamble to what I really wanted to do in this post, which was to throw out a general gardening query to readers: How many of you have plants/flowers in your garden that you sometimes wish you didn't ... whether they be invasive thugs, pretty rogues, or overly enthusiastic beauties? I've featured several of ours this summer, and I'm curious to hear what others' experiences have been like. So feel free to comment, rant away or generally share some of the more dubious "successes" that you have had in your garden.

In essence, as they say on the big dog blogs, consider this an open thread!


Gail said...


Invasive, alien, thugs...Vinca is thy name! All over! I made the mistake early in my gardening career of planting just a bit of Vinca minor, the Vinca major was planted before I got here and I haven't ever been able to get rid of it!

I thought about planting the white yarrow as a lawn replacement...even bought seeds and then thought better of it! My plan was to keep it mowed and it would look green and be soft underfoot! The vinca mistake has kept this girl from planting yarrow! I still have the seeds if you want to weigh in on this!


FARfetched said...

You know I'd say "butterfly bush." 'Course, we inherited those buggers from the previous occupants.

Yarrow, yarrow… Oh hey, don't they use yarrow stalks for traditional I Ching readings?

Roses and Lilacs said...

Haven't we all done battle with some aggressive plant? I'm a believer that all perennials have merit, but not in all places:)

Adenophora, lady bells, is giving me trouble now. It's taking over my fox glove area. It is a pretty little blue bell like plant that resembles campanula. Tucked in among tough stuff like shrubs,rhubarb, roses, or iris, lady bells can be charming. On the other hand, it tends to run amuck in amended garden soil.

Family Man said...

Hiya IVG.

As you know I'm not a gardner. I'd say down here the only thing I could grow and not want is Kudzu. Wonderful pictures as always. Hope you and Fernymoss are doing fine.

boran2 said...

My yellow yarrow has reached legendary proportions. Huge and falling all over itself, I just won't get rid of it. It is carefree and flowers almost continuously.

The things that I'd like to be rid of are the various weeds, not anything that I've planted myself. The poison ivy is just everywhere.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
I knew there was some reason I've never been attracted to Vinca, and you may have just given me a justification! That explains why there's a bank down the street that has it out front and it grows lushly there ... all over!

I think I'd rather have the yarrow, because at least it's attractive and might serve a purpose for you somewhere you need to fill in and aren't picky. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
OF COURSE, I knew your answer before I saw it, lol. :-)
And yes, Fernymoss confirms, they do use yarrow stalks for I Ching readings. Thanks for pointing that out, because I had no clue!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Oh yes, I think we all have (and probably failed more than once)! I agree that most perennials have some use, which just goes to prove the old "one gardener's weed is another's beauty."

I never knew the proper name for Lady Bells, which is a sometimes weed around here that we don't have! I wouldn't mind having some, because they sure are pretty. (I looked them up on Davesgarden, where it got 4 red negatives, lol.) I like your idea of tucking it away amongst the toughies!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FM!
Glad to see you around again, and I hope your computer holds out till the other one gets fixed!

I don't think you'd have to even try to grow kudzu from my experience with it ... just think, you could call it Slacker Weed, hehe.

We're doing fine here, but awfully busy with work, and Fernymoss starts a new job on Monday. He got fed up with the direction the company he worked for was going, so he went out and got a job at the competition. HA HA (My best Nelson Muntz laugh.)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
I recall you talking a while back about how it flops into Mme. B's car and annoys her, hehe. It is pretty, and we used to dry it for indoors, but it managed to crowd out even our catnip! (And catnip wanders a lot!)

I'd do something about the poison ivy if I were you. Every so often a patch pops up in our yard, and we're forced to break our rule about no chemicals or herbicides, but we make a big exception for that stuff. We've used a spray (I think Ortho makes it) that works really well, but requires a few applications to really kill it off. Even so, then you need to get the rubber gloves on and dig the roots and get rid of them. Yeah, that's quite a ritual but it's worked for us.

Good luck with that, bud!

Sophie Sexton said...

Thank you for helping identify my flowers I posted on my blog yesterday. I put another one on there today, although I think it might be a flowering weed.


vp hotels said...

If you are into interesting gardening, drop by and check this out:

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Sophie,
Hope I was at least a little helpful w/that. I'll check out your new one and see if I have a clue, lol.

Stop by again when the urge hits you. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi VP Hotels,
I took a quick look around at your blog, and was quite surprised to learn we can have some of them here! (I'm assuming they'll need some sort of protection in winter?) Cool thing to see those in Iowa!

Shady Gardener said...

IVG, Do you Like the yellow yarrow flowers? Have you seen those green grow-through rings with the legs that attach in the Spring? I have several... pick them up when I find them on sale... that I put over plants in the early Spring. This might be the ticket for your yarrow. I use it on the tall Sedum, some phlox, catmint, etc. They are hidden very quickly.

Shady Gardener said...

IVG, I've just nominated you for an award. Check it out at "my place!" :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady, nice to see you back!

That was the tall yellow I was talking about in the post, the one that always is falling down, lol. Your idea about the support rings is a good one! We'll have to look for some of those. We weeded for about 3 hrs today and I'm wiped out (especially after trying to network my old computer via the router with much frustration tonight!). I gave up on the networking and will work on it a bit tomorrow when I have time (I have to do "work work" for a few hours).

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Uh oh, Shady... I'll have to check that out ... hope it doesn't involve much work, because I'm really crushed right now with work, lol. Should be better in a few days though...

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