Garden Year 2018: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Well, what with the recent screeching turn in the weather, it’s beginning to feel like the 2018 gardening season is wrapping up. Moreover, I just spent a few days organizing my photos from the year, which reminded me of all I saw, did, and didn’t do. Therefore, seems to me it’s as good a time as any to review Garden Year 2018.

Things that Made Me Whoop

  • Removal of perfectly attractive, incredibly healthy evergreen barberries. There are only so many times your hands can be pierced by 2-3” barbs the likes of hypodermic needles before something drastic has to happen.

  • Whirlwinding through Plant Delights Nursery, Duke Gardens, NC Arboretum, JC Raulston, and the Biltmore in the face of a hurricane. Great horticulture, and good food and drink too. Tours of Chicago gardens before that. Of nurseries and gardens in Delaware since. Good year for seeing cool things.
  • Further infatuation with pollinators, and more and more even other insects.


  • Monarda. Never really paid much attention to them before. Got to make up for lost time.

  • Heavy, heavy crops on pawpaws and persimmons. Not that I’ll eat many of them, but just because.

  • The continuing and increasing coolness of naturalistic horticulture on the city scene.

  •  Aesculus parviflora ‘Rogers’. Always liked it. In 2018, I finally fell in love.

Things That Made Me Curse 

  • Losing my Yellowwood. Some idiot who looks a lot like me planted it underneath the      power lines and then was shocked, shocked I tell you, when it grew too big and the        utility company came along and hacked it all to hell. Soon after, with a tear in my eye, I had to put it down.

  • Losing more of my sun perennials to shade. I’m finding myself spending more of my time eyeing some of my trees and stroking my chin.
  • Piniella invasion year ten. Can’t rid myself of that stuff! I rue the day when I lusted after this plant.

  • My lawn. After years and years of neglect, it’s finally looking neglected. Not sure what changed. And not sure what I’m going to do. If I had to guess, I’ll try some more procrastination.
  • A leaking swimming pool. Kept wondering where all that water was going until the day my neighbor called to ask if had a water main break. Now his lawn, which has always been perfect, looks worse than mine.
  • Heat. Holy crap! Like laying asphalt in the Deep South all summer kind of heat. Brutal!
  • Heavy, heavy crop of fruit on my ginkgo. It’s going to smell really foul around here soon, and, I’m telling you, most of that will be the ginkgo’s fault. Not mine.


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Scott Beuerlein

Scott Beuerlein is the Manager of Botanical Garden Outreach at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Scott is Chair of the Boone County Arboretum Collections Committee, past Chairman of Taking Root, past President of the Cincinnati Flower Growers Association, and Past Chairman of the Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council.

He has published over 100 magazine articles for several publications, and now writes the Back or Magazine columns for Horticulture and Ohio Gardener.

Scott is an ONLA Certified Landscape Technician and an ISA Certified Arborist, and lives a life of routine bliss with his “out of his league” wife, a blind dog, a plotting cat, and an over-sized, under-maintained garden.

Contact Scott:  [email protected]

Visit Scott’s website:


  1. Rueful sympathy for your yellow-wood. In Texas, where you MUST have a shade cave over your house, the tree butchers just plain destroyed a handsome oak l had planted, and they lusted to mutilate other trees we had, as well. So when we moved into our current home 1000 miles from Houston, and some construction was being done on the new place, l paid the backhoe operator to scoop up and move two adolescent trees AWAY from the power lines they had been planted under. When eyebrows were raised, l just said that l try to make new mistakes, rather than repeating the same ones. And the young trees seemed not to realize they’d been moved. They are getting very large and would have been subject to butchering by now.
    As to your barberries, two words. Lilacs. Baptisia. Why did no one warn me about them???

    • Thanks for your kind words regarding my yellowwood. Each day gets a little better, and we know that it is happily blooming in tree heaven.

    • I’d never heard of Piniella. Hmm; spreads by rhizomes *and* with bulbils ( What was it that made you want to plant it, Scott?
      Condolences on your yellowwood. Mine was “planted” (grew through its pot) too close to the house, and when it grew too large to ignore, my partner cut it down without telling me. He hurt himself during the operation, and I didn’t even feign sympathy. At least I did see it bloom once.

      • The anger dance I would do if I came home to find that my wife had cut down a tree…even one that was too big, too close to the house, and whatnot. The injury was well-deserved.

  2. LOVED this brisk rundown—-GREAT sense of humor—-The final item on the list was killer! Look forward to more of your contributions—-

  3. Hysterical! But, why do you have a female Ginko? Did it change gender or do you like to eat the fruit? If the latter, how do you get past the stink?

    Thank you for the morning laugh!

    • It didn’t produce fruit until (we estimated) it was at least 80 years old. Could be that it changed sex. Or, more likely, someone nearby planted a male which is now pollinating it. I can’t get past the stink, and have argued to cut it down. My wife avoids the stink by staying inside and letting me rake them up, and somehow wins the argument to keep it.

  4. The anger dance I would do if I came home to find that my wife had cut down a tree…even one that was too big, too close to the house, and whatnot. The injury was well-deserved.

  5. I for one am glad that you removed the barberry and not just so you won’t be punctured. It is highly invasive here in SW INdiana. The darn things pop up everywhere even in forests. It is too bad they are such a pretty shrub being so colorful.

    • This was not the invasive Berberis thunbergii, but a completely species. Marginally hardy even. It rarely, if ever set any fruit, and I never saw a seedling.

  6. I have considerable sympathy for barberry pokes, which is why I have also been banishing many of mine – except the vertical ones. The trick there is to prune them once per year to maintain their vertical structure in order to keep them out of the way as much as possible. Leather gloves up to the elbow work nicely.
    Once, on a whim, I purchased Pinellia, planted it, and within a month removed it completely. That plant is a racehorse in disguise.
    Monarda can be a handsome plant – for a short time. But my experience has been after that it descends into a mess and tends to get a little unruly. I have been more interested in M. bradburiana, which seems to have a nicer habit.
    After years of trying to get my husband to contribute to the garden in the form of maintaining the lawn, I finally gave up and removed it all and have never looked back. I now have a 22′ circle of Carex flacca instead. Much easier to maintain – a once a year cut OR rake and that’s it. Good luck!

    • We’ve been trialing a few Monarda and some definitely hold up better later in the year than others, including M. bradburiana. I’m down to very little lawn. Some of it in the shade has turned to moss, which I love. You’ve got me thinking about Carex flacca. That could be an interesting look. How does it handle foot traffic?

  7. I planted a Tulip Tree in my front yard after Hamilton County took down my 2-88 year old Norway Spruces for street work. Now the tree trimmers from duke have been creating a C shape into the side of my beautiful specimen. They recently sent me a note that they will be applying a growth hormone. The tree is very large, how will they be applying this hormone and what will it do to my family and other plants?

  8. Hello,

    I stumbled on the Garden Rant website and I am not sure how I didn’t know it existed! I am brand new to it so I look forward to reading more. I recently started my own landscaping business in Overland Park, KS that also deals in tree trimming in Kansas City at So I will be using this site as inspiration and a resource! I am sorry to hear about your Yellowwood…such a shame.

    Thank you for being the first post I read!

  9. Scott,
    Have to tell you that my day was made by your opening the Cuyahoga County MG Fall Seminar last week. Thanks so much for your participation with very welcome humor!
    Will now continue to enjoy your horticultural humor in print. ( I’m sorry about your yellowwood too, sort of in the same situation with my double Japanese Kwazan cherry.)
    Best to you!

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