We had a deal!

I’ve been sneaking some ‘First Frost’ into this ventricosa bed.

Ever have this with a plant: love it, love it, love it, love it, love it, HATE IT. Some plants remind me of what I’ve always been told about childbirth: you don’t remember how bad it was until it’s too late. Either that or I am just too stupid to learn. During a day of late season carnage last weekend, I found myself hacking back or uprooting stuff that only weeks before had been the objects of cooing admiration by hundreds of Garden Walkers. The culprits included:

Verbena bonariensis:  This is an annual for me, anyway. But I think I’m done with it all the same. Its tall, weaving stalks and fresh, pollinator-attracting blooms get bent, broken, and dull too soon.

Rudbeckia lacianata ‘Golden Glow’: I will never eliminate this from the garden, but late August is not its time. It must be deadheaded or the hideous spent blooms hang on for weeks, though small blooms are still coming. Mildew finally attacks. And, by this time, the 8-foot stems are staked. It’s the price that must be paid for this otherwise rewarding heirloom plant.

Hosta ventricosa (we think): Not gonna say goodbye to this inherited bed either, but I am making inroads. It has the tallest, deepest-colored scapes I have ever seen on a purple-flowered hosta and the deeply veined leaves are gorgeous. Until now. An early browner among the hosta clan.

As I happily tear into the perennial beds, I (just as happily) look at all my lush, overflowing pots of annuals. They would not do this to me. They know it’s not time yet.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. I had to pull out a number of fairly nice spreading plants because they started spreading alarmingly. I live near natural areas and I just couldn’t take the chance that these might invade the woods. They include Dead nettle (Lamium maculatum), sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica), and snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).

  2. Are we the only people in the world that love hostas in their decay? Or does that one decay in a peculiar way? But mostly – if it’s a spreader: bring it on!!!

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