Wrong again

Again I am disappointed by the failure of another of the garden’s daphnes. Just when I think I’ve figured them out, wrong again, as a long established ‘Eternal Fragrance’ fades and finally is dug out and hauled to the compost heap. No doubt the garden evolves, shade and root competition increases, so what works one day might not the next.

This ‘Carol Mackie’ daphne is flourishing, but it replaced others that perished and I must suppose that it is here to be enjoyed for the short term.

Daphnes are, unfortunately, known for their pernickety nature, and I’m guessing it is a matter of time before others in the garden perish. The equation is not so simple. Is the benefit of the glorious fragrance worth the bother of a short lived shrub? I’ve lost and replanted in the past, but again, I don’t know.

While spurges (Euphorbia) are tough natured perennials surviving under brutal sun and dry soil, I never quite figured out the red leafed ‘Bonfire’ (Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’, below). Years ago, I planted one, maybe two, and wherever they were planted I don’t recall but they didn’t last long. But, they survived long enough to set and broadcast seed. Today there are multiple seedlings, not in sunny spots as I would have planted them, but in the dry shade under Japanese maples and in various other dry, shaded locations where they return annually.

Other plants should be so forgiving. I screw up, plant something where it can’t survive, but it finds its way to a spot that suits it better. A second spurge, cypress spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias,below) is reviled by gardeners as a thug, but I’ve managed to control it with a little effort, and in fact, have found an antidote to its rampant spread.

A nice clump of cypress spurge was restrained by large stone slabs in a patio beside the koi pond. It filled its space nicely, but could move no further. One spring, a seedling of ‘Espresso’ geranium (Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’, below) found its way into this small planting area. By some miracle, the tiny geranium survived despite the spurge covering every inch of ground. But, the next year the geranium grew larger, with the spurge receding, and after a few years the poor spurge had to be dug and rescued before it disappeared completely.

Today, the supposedly thuggish cypress spurge resides safely away from the mild mannered geranium. No doubt there are gardeners trying to figure a way to eradicate this spurge, but I’m happy to have found a spot where it can survive so long as I can keep geranium seedlings away.

‘Espresso’ geranium and cypress spurge occupied a small area until the geranium pushed the spurge out.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Chuck says:

    Why do I keep trying plants that don’t survive. It usually takes an average of 3 attempts before I give up

    1. Dave says:

      I have done the same so many times, but following a failure I typically purchase two to plant in varying conditions, hoping that one will be ideally located.

  2. I’ve given up on daphnes. I had great success with my first two, but they eventually gave up the ghost. Since then, no luck with daphnes. So now I just enjoy the ones in my church’s courtyard, and plant less persnickety shrubs at home.

    1. Dave says:

      I haven’t given up yet. There are two old timers and several youngsters going strong, but I’m unlikely to replace this recent fatality.

  3. tonytomeo says:

    One of the best (common) daphne that I know of is in what I would consider to be a very bad situation for it. It is in a warm spot next to a paved driveway, and right under the exhaust from a laundry drier! I can not figure out why it is so happy! I know that the drier generates warm and humid air, but it also generated warm and dry air! Also, many of the best gardenias that I know of are in what seem to be uncomfortably dry situations. Although they get water in the soil, the foliage is dry. (This is a chaparral climate here.)

    1. Dave says:

      Even our extreme dry periods are not dry by your area’s standards. That is probably a part of our daphne problem

      1. tonytomeo says:

        What? Don’t daphne prefer humidity?

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