Monday, May 21, 2012

Beware of this "Chameleon" plant

Houttuynia cordata, also known as Chameleon plant, Bishop's Weed and Lizard Tail is said to have medicinal uses and widely used in cooking in it's native Asia. But here in my garden on Long Island, it's invasive and from what research I've done, its not going to be easy to get rid of.

At first, I was excited to have such a lovely groundcover. In one area of my garden, the previous owners had even planted a variegated leaf variety of the plant, which is really quite attractive. But then I noticed how it continued to spread and grow upright (nearly 15 inches tall against the stone wall). It's choking out my hostas now, competing for space and light.

It spreads by rhizomes and unless every bit of that rhizome is removed, the plant will continue to sprout. The leaves and stems have a strong odor when crushed, a bit like really strong cilantro (in my opinion). So even when I tried to remove some of it, the smell remained on my hands and gloves for hours afterwards!

Doing some research online, most people who have tried to remove it have had little success. And those that were successful, admitted it took over 2 years to get rid of it completely and a lot of RoundUp. Some suggest smothering it with a tarp. Others say to mow it down and then apply the RoundUp. Ugh.

So it was to my utter surprise when I saw it for sale in the Garden Center a few weeks ago. A woman was looking at it and about to put it into her cart when I felt compelled to warn her on it's invasiveness. She was grateful for the information and quickly put it back on the rack. This plant likes low light and high moisture conditions - great for a bog, wet slope or naturalistic pond area. Another option would be to keep it in a container. Sadly, I have inherited this plant when we bought the house. I may not get to it this year, but removing it will certainly be on the agenda for next year. Have you ever seen this plant? Do you have it and have you tried to get rid of it? I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What's Blooming: May

It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day! Here's what's growing and blooming in my new garden this month:

The Iris are in full bloom. I planted some Impatiens in the foreground and now I'm just waiting to see how the rest will fill in.

So many Hostas - some of them quite beautiful! These are backed by Astilbe against the wall. The Astilbe have lots of buds on them. I'm curious to see what color they are!

The ferns look fantastic in these containers. The two on the left are Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and the one on the right is Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) which emerges later than the others.

Curb appeal! This garden is in the lower corner of the front yard, right along the sidewalk. Behind the Hostas are Coral Bells, Barberry and purple Iris.

In the front sidewalk garden, I just recently planted Butterfly Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies'), Salvia nemorosa 'May Night' and Coreopsis.

Many thanks to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for hosting the monthly Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spring has sprung (in more ways than one!)

Spring is here. Time for rebirth, new growth and the start of a new cycle of life. I've been on a bit of a hiatus these past few months and for that I apologize. But it's been a busy winter here. In December, we moved to a new house. Then in January, I gave birth to twins. And now it's May and I'm finally starting to settle into the rhythm of life with four kids and a new house. 

Having moved from a rental house where I only had containers and a small deck, I am fascinated to see what is popping up at this new house. From what I gathered from the neighbors, horticulturalists used to live here and as a result, there are some really nice plantings on the property already. However, the people that we bought the house from had let these plantings take over. As a result, there are a lot of overgrown shrubs, a bizillion hostas and lots places of neglect. In addition, the back part of the property is very wooded and on a slope. There is one level spot where I assume held a swing set at one time. Lots and lots of maples, probably self seeded.

Here's how it looked in March:
Overgrown Pieris japonica (Andromeda) behind the stone wall provides at least some green color through the winter.

A large, overgrown Yew hedge wraps around the path to the front door. The main front yard garden has a lovely Japanese Maple tree in the center. Sandwiched between the Maple and the Yew is a lovely Weeping Spruce which definitely needs more room to grow.

Looking down from the top of the slope, the backyard is a woodland wonderland right now.

The mild winter and warm temperatures in April made everything bloom early, but I didn't mind!
Hostas, Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii), Coral Bells, Iris and Forsythia line the garden near the road.  A beautiful Kwanzan Cherry tree is in full bloom next to the house.

The Japanese Maple begins to leaf out. Below it, I see some Tulips, Sedum and Montauk Daisy coming up.

I love the smell of the fragrant white flowers on Pieris japonica and the reddish color of its new growth. Below it, two lovely Azalea plants stretch for sunlight. Hostas and Astilbe make up the triangular garden on the patio.

Now it's May and the maple and oak trees are all full of leaves, providing a lot of shade in the backyard. The Hostas are at their full width, Iris is blooming and some of the ferns I have in containers are taking hold. Time for me to get outside and take some photos... if I can find the time! I'll do my best, so stay tuned.