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SHARING SECRETS: Oops! What Did You Learn?

Edited by Cathy Tylka.

What did you learn from something that went wrong in your garden?

Wikimedia Commons

Liriope spicata, Monkey Grass.

Donna Milazzo of 92692 says:

I planted “spreading” monkey grass, Liriope spicata in my front garden. At first it filled its intended planter nicely. Later, it spread to a planter across the concrete walkway, and eventually into my lawn. Once there, it was impossible to eradicate. I have seen it in a neighbor's garden growing up through the cracks between the sidewalk and driveway, around the water meter, etc. Nasty stuff and I think that garden centers should NOT sell it!


Karen England, 92084 reports:

Early on at our property in Vista, around 2001, my husband and our nephews worked together on some of the needed hardscape, most notably a staircase made from recycled cross-arms from power polls.

First, they made the individual stair risers together before my husband was called into work, so my nephews were left to set the risers in place and finish the staircase.

On a break, my husband came back to help and everything was going and looking great. When his break was over my hubby headed back to work. Later that day, close to the end of setting the stairs and being finished, my nephews thought there was one spot midway that needed fixing and the result was the whole thing was dismantled to fix it and when my husband came home from work they had started all over. When finished, a few days later, the staircase was still wonky in the same spot and is to this day.

What we all learned from this was, when working with recycled materials in the garden, to understand that things won’t be perfect and to even use these imperfections to an advantage if possible.

And those stairs are still going strong 20 years later.


Linda Canada states:

Several years ago, I was very excited to be able to add two waist-high redwood garden boxes to my newly revised backyard but failed to do enough research. I learned the hard way that the location of my lot on the edge of a canyon meant that the beautiful vegetables I had planned to serve my family were only going to enrich the diet of the local ground squirrels. They loved the tomatoes, peppers and squash, and even went so far as to dig up the potatoes!

I have learned that gardening above ground is great for the back, and I now have these raised bed planters filled with drought tolerant plants which don't provide food for my furry neighbors. I grow milkweed in them also, and usually have a fun spring and summer watching the caterpillars grow up and fly away.

Citrus trees are grafted on to rootstocks for better performance in the garden.

Janet Ward of 91902 mentioned:

As most gardening people know; Citrus trees are grafted on to rootstocks for better performance in the garden. I planted several in my yard about 20 years ago, a lime, lemon, and two kinds of oranges. All was going well for about 10 years until one day I went down to the lemon to pick some fruit and found an entirely different fruit on the tree! It was small, round, and a thin skinned orangey-yellow color and when I cut into it, it was full of fibrous tissue and not usable at all. Also, there were different shaped leaves and lots more thorns on the branches. I learned that the rootstock had grown up through the tree by suckers that I had not been paying attention to prune them out. The rootstock which was a Trifoliate variety had taken over the tree and I had no choice but to remove the entire tree and replace it with a new one and start over! I watch all my Citrus a lot more carefully now ☺.

Drimys lanceolata, Mountain Pepper.

Christopher Carnes notes:

I stumbled on Mountain Pepper, Drimys Lanceolata, at the nursery and planted a hedge of both female and male plants for a future supply of pepper. Alas, all six plants died slowly. Started with the outer

leaves dying and eventually the entire plant.

What I discovered afterwards was that Mountain Pepper plants cannot live if given phosphorus fertilizer. The fertilizer I used contained phosphorus. Live and learn.


Cathy Tylka, RN, retired Emergency Nurse, found her love of plants and the SDHS merge many years ago. Cathy acted as Treasurer for the organization and volunteer for many activities. Now, more than happy to assist in gathering questions to ask you in the Sharing Secrets area of the Newsletter.


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