Friday, July 29, 2011


Well, I'll start off year two of my blog by showing you a recent little oopsie that constitutes my biggest garden error; EVER, bar none!  This little mistake was not on the same level as placing a Stella de Oro daylily next to a magenta phlox.  Nor was it quite equivalent to planting Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon' between the stepping stones of a walkway (although that would be a pretty big error).  No, this bonehead move resulted in horticultural murder, mayhem, and genocide in my garden.  I may need to convene a Gardener's War Crime Tribunal to clear up this aftermath and assign blame.

Before I confess, I must, in my defense, state the mitigating circumstances.  It was a hot Saturday.  A very very hot Saturday.  And I had been working in the garden for several hours, and likely was operating under delirium brought on by heat stroke.  And there were several things left to accomplish on my list before I melted away, including mixing up "Over-The-Top" spray to kill some grass invading an heirloom group of irises and my strawberry bed, and I was in a hurry.   So I reached for the Hi-Yield Grass Killer sitting benignly on my killing shelf (as Helen Dillon refers to it), measured out the proper amount, added some sticker-spreader, and sprayed the aforementioned areas.  And with a little left over, decided to also spray some Nut Sedge (Cyperus rotundus) that had surrounded a 'Jean Kenneally' miniature rose and some crabgrass that was romping across an island bed.

Alas, about 45 minutes later it occurred to me suddenly that I had picked up the identically shaped and sized bottle of all-purpose herbicide that I used on the buffalograss this spring. Oops.  A quick check of the label indicated that this herbicide took two hours to become rain-proof, so I made a frantic run for the hoses and quickly washed off what I could.  The only hope that I really had is that in many areas of the strawberry patch I had directed the spray only on plants choked by grass and had not generally sprayed the entire bed.  The end result is that the strawberries mostly survived, I can't bear to show you the irises, and I can only bear to show you the miniature rose.  If you peer closely at the picture at the left, you'll see that the green foliage at the bottom of the picture, taken 3 weeks after the mishap, is a surviving part of the rose.  Thank God this rose was own-root and several years old because it has a chance to recover someday. 

There are a couple of lessons here.  First, the old adage about never to "ass-u-me" anything because it makes an ass out of -u and -me applies here.  Just because I knew the bottle shape and size didn't excuse the fact that I should have checked the label.  Second, my practice of writing the concentration in bold marker on the bottle so that I don't have to search the label for it may not, after all, be a good thing.  If I had to go looking for the fine print, I might just have noticed that what I was holding wasn't what it should have been.

I've been thinking about trying to host a monthly "show your garden errors" blog day.  What do you think?  Would a display of public humility either be educational or cathartic for you?  Do you think that all of you out there with perfect gardens would find enough problems and  be willing to disclose them to make it worthwhile?  Or did I just act out the horticultural equivalent of Will Ferrell in the movie "Old School," streaking along by myself and expecting the gang to follow?


  1. What a coincidence. I was out in the roses this morning with over-the-top grass killer, too. As I walked out the door, I told The Husband that I was going on a 'killing spree'.

    Sharing our garden blunders is a GOOD thing. It helps us to not make the same mistake twice, and it alerts other gardeners to possible mistakes they are in danger of making. I will see what I can do to come up with one of my best (meaning worst) boo-boos, and I will gladly play along.

  2. Well, I think if a person's not up for a little self-inflicted humiliation, they're just no fun at all. Chemicals and I definitely don't get along, mainly because I hate to read instructions and am basically dislexic when I do. So I'm really dumb about it. Once I was trying to get the top off my sprayer used for RoundUp (I'm not good with mechanical things either) while there was still pressure in it, so when I finally twisted hard enough while holding it between my knees, the pressure released straight up onto my mouth which was not open (imagine that). I ran screaming near death into the house, washed my mouth off, called the number on the RU bottle, reached a nurse, and was assured that RU is harmless unless you're green. Now RU does not scare me so I'm less apt to screw up with it. I do use a shield around plants I don't want to kill. I bet you won't do that again, Professor, and neither will I. Although maybe I have.


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