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Into the Garden: Invasive 'good' plants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A gardening friend and I were chatting about good vs. bad plants recently, and we started talking about those "good" plants that can go "bad" in your garden.

For example, English Ivy. While it's lovely in the right place, a visit to the Carriage Trail in Charleston shows visitors just what can happen when it gets out of control. My neighbor is battling a stand of ivy planted by a previous homeowner that is threatening the woods near his yard.

My friend was complaining about liriope -- she planted it years ago, on the recommendation of a landscaper, and now she's got it everywhere and is having trouble getting rid of it.

I'm the same way with periwinkle. I planted it a long time ago and now I'm dying to get rid of it.

Another friend spoke up about Japanese anemone, saying he can't get it out of his yard. And then there's creeping jenny; great if you want to cover a large area, but a pain in the neck if you like things tidy.

Many plants that are on invasive lists started out as seemingly harmless additions to the suburban landscape. I've seen butterfly bushes on many "do not plant" lists lately as they reseed so rapidly.

What are your "good plants gone bad?"

Wildflowers

My recent column about the wildflowers along West Virginia's highways prompted this email from Mike Lizotte Jr.

"Nice article on wildflowers! We're the company that has been supplying Sherri and before her Anna Shahan and the Adopt a Highway program with their wildflowers. We started working with Anna about 15 years ago and also have consulted with the Dept. of Highways regarding recommendations for their program as well!"

Mike included this link to his company, American Meadows: http://www.americanmeadows.com/members-meadows/northeast/northeast-shahan

Thanks, Mike!

Congratulations are in order

The Kanawha Garden Club has honored the Carriage Trail Committee with the Garden Club of America Historic Preservation Commendation.

The citation reads: "For your leadership and untiring efforts in restoring horticultural authenticity, preserving the unique character and enabling public appreciation of the historic Carriage Trail."

This citation was approved at the request of Sara Hoblitzell. In her letter to the Garden Club of America, she recited the history of the Carriage Trail and the efforts of the committee and its volunteers, described its plantings, and noted, as an example, Nancy Ward's leadership in removal of ivy and development of the herbicide policy.

As always, Sara is a tireless advocate of our wonderful city, as is Nancy Ward. Without the work of these and other generous citizens, Charleston wouldn't be as beautiful a place to live.

Where to recycle?

A reader sent a card asking a question that's frequently asked by gardeners throughout our area.

"Could you please provide ideas on how/where to recycle plastic pots and 6-packs we gardeners accumulate each summer. The recycling centers do not take them. Do any of the market vendors accept them?"

Anyone have an answer for us?

California Spring Trials 2012

Plant breeders from all over the world converge on California in the spring to show off new cultivars, improved genetics and the hot new colors.

California Spring Trials (formerly Pack Trials) is the genesis of the Floriculture industry. During the course of a week, the world's prominent plant breeders, propagation specialists, growers, marketing professionals and plant enthusiasts present, share and discuss the floriculture industry's bounty at several open houses throughout California. This multi-day series of invitation-only events showcases the building blocks of the world's greatest gardens and landscapes and the industry it spawns, according to www.springtrials.org.

Three trends were seen at this year's event, noted Richard Jones, group editor of Meister Media, producers of several plant-related publications.

Edible crops were more evident with growers this year. While this trend has been on the upswing for several years, and there are new plants offered every year, it's still a small part of the grower's market. Snack-sized fruits were seen everywhere -- small peppers, cherry tomatoes and mini cantaloupe ('Lilliput').

Popular new veggies included 'Easy Pick Gold' Zucchini (with just 32 days from transplant to ripe fruit and no spines on the stalk of the leaf attaching the stem); Bumper Crop grafted tomatoes (including 'Big Rainbow,' 'Brandywine Red' and 'Sam Marzano') and a compact branching cayenne-type chili, 'Cayennetta' Pepper.

"Local" is a buzzword that resounded with growers. They are working to show not just what's new, but what can be grown easily in different regions of the country.

New ways to reach customers is the third big "thing" among growers. Interesting packaging, display suggestions, using new technology (mobile apps, QR codes) and point-of-purchase ideas were all popular topics.

I'm reading a lot about the new offerings in annuals and perennials, and I'll pass those plants' names in next week's column.

Reach Sara Busse at sara.busse@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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