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Gardening Grandma

Golly, Brumbull, your head must be bursting with ideas! Quite a few current threads were started by you! Not that I'm criticising, I promise - I'm enjoying them.

Successes - finding out which plants are tough enough to survive my ministrations and planting them! I love hardy perennials. In a sink or swim situation, they usually swim.

Failures - I can't grow rhododendrons and azaleas (soil is neutral and I have always failed with them) and roses struggle in this wet area. I once planted bearded irises in the shade and too deep, with predictable results. No flowers. It took me a long time to realise how greedy and thirsty roses and clematis are. Then there's...err... how long have you got?


I have real problems growing border phlox for some reason. I have good moisture retentive soil but they just do not survive for me, which is a shame because I like them


Lily of the valley. Can't get it started, people give me bits, I plant them, they look OK, but they don't appear the next year.


Heleniums are a ridiculous fail in my garden even though I mulch heavily, I guess my soil is just too light and starved. I generally stay away from bog plants as I know they won't cope but you know I have this itty-bitty inner voice that says, Prairie plant? Yeah...of course open grassland is sun-baked dust bowl that mimics your garden exactly.



Gardening Grandma wrote (see)

Failures - I can't grow rhododendrons and azaleas (soil is neutral and I have always failed with them) and roses struggle in this wet area. I once planted bearded irises in the shade and too deep, with predictable results. No flowers. It took me a long time to realise how greedy and thirsty roses and clematis are. Then there's...err... how long have you got?

GG are you needing an Ark??? I tend to try and stick with things I'm fairly sure will thrive -right plant right place etc- but like most people I like things and want to grow them regardless. In last house rabbits made this very trying but pieris was largely untouched and schizostylus. Clay soil but just keeping working at it. I love heucheras and they seem to thrive here, seeding readily. If your soil doesn't suit, raised beds/large containers is the way- GG rhodies/camellias etc will do well in big raised beds. For irises I get them in raised beds and use lots of grit for drainage and have also done them in pots to move around. 



I can't grow acid loving plants or plants that are borderline hardy. Can't grow evergreen ceonothus. Lavender and rosemary grows well. Heleniums wouldn't grow in one bed then I tried them in another and they grew well. Cyclamen hederofolium have taken off under a tree.

I can't grow magnolias, even the dwarf ones.
Can't keep corydallus flexuosa for more than couple of years despite knowing how to
Can't grow turnips
Daphne's don't last too long for me either yet my neighbour without green fingers can!
Can' far...grow Eremurus
Grow great summer veg and fruit. my runner beans are to die for
Couldn't grow lily of the valley but now its a weed....aah! Such is life
Can grow tender perennials and, of ourselves, my hellebores

What I find fascinating from this thread is that many good gardeners have plants that probably they should be able to grow but just cant. There must be forces in the nature of our plots that we cant see or understand. Spooky, but I think rather reassuring that there are things out of our control. Christoher Lloyd my gardening guru always said he could not grow winter aconites but they spread like weeds here.

It's prob good we dont have all the answers and, as you say, there are things out of our control.
We all garden in our own way....we are all unique and our gardens are the same.
However, I will still try to grow things I know I really cannot...we all want what we cannot have
Aren't we funny?
Gardening Grandma

Lizzie, my best success with a ceanothus was in a large pot in a sunny spot - warmth and drainage, I suppose. I've tried an azalea in a pot, with ericaceous compost, but it just  languished sadly until I tried it in the ground and then got rid of it.


Japanese Anemone Honorine Jobert dislikes me/my garden. Tried 3 times, different places, nope. Other JAs no problem.

Everytime I hear it recommended I scream! There's a small cottage near the entrance to St Catherine's college, in Oxford, that has a small, north facing garden full of it! Wonderful sight!

Success with all sorts of plants suitable for a dry part-shade garden, with acidic to neutral soil. Just a case of researching & trying what's suitable for your plot.

Hellebores do like 'me', another one came home with me from Ashwoods' nursery yesterday. J.


I can grow Sweet Peas, but not Peas, they don't even germinate properly.

Coriander I find almost impossible to grow.


I can't grow rhododendrons and azaleas either. Hate to think how many plants I bought until I admitted defeat. I have never managed to keep delphiniums or hollyhocks for more than a year and, for some unknown reason, aubretia. Not having much success with clematis Montana either.


Strange, Artjak, I can grow peas, but not Sweet Peas. I think it's too hot here in summer. Can grow coriander, but it goes to seed quite quickly. Last year it seeded itself all over the herb bed and part of the potato area.

Can grow eremurus, but when it's finished there is a bit of a bare patch. It's huge spidery roots take up quite a bit of space. I'd probably forget to water it if I put something in a pot there. Pots need watering every day in the summer and I have lots on the terraces. Including a dwarf rhododendron in acid compost that I can't grow in the alkali soil.

I thought last year's delphiniums hadn't survived so I bought more and now the others are all coming up!

Jean Genie

Dahlias - no matter what I do, they always end up as slug fodder.

Even tried to grow them in pots.



Brumbull wrote (see)
TT what about growing azaleas in a container, you could try dwarf rhododendrons
grown in ericaceous compost


I think about that BB and then promptly forget until I am reminded! I will need a lorry soon to buy all the plants suggested for heavy clay soil and containers!

Highland Jeannie

I don't usually try anything borderline hardy here, but loved the persecaria Red Dragon that we had in a southern sheltered SW facing garden.  I brought some potted cuttings but put them in the garage in the autumn, not daring to plant out. A few days ago the large one, in about a 12" pot had new growth but it seemed to have died back, I looked at the small one & that looked the same, but that pot had dried out. I re-potted it & the fingers are now crossed.   There is some light in there & the temps don't appear to have gone below freezing.  Lobelia fan Queen Victoria is another plant that I really like, but about 3 have not survived the winters so have given up with them.

I really like the early bulbs - hope that spring is coming , also flowering currant & chaenomeles.

Azalias & rhodies like our acid soil, but the garden isn't big enough for many & they don't flower for very long. 

Wallflowers. I thought they were supposed to be really tough??  I bought some plugs the year before last; they didn't flower so expected a stonking display this year. No. Not in the back or front. Over the autumn/winter a lot just seemed to dry out & about 3 plants are left, 2 look very hopeful & 1 looks poorly.  Oh well, at least the others fed the compost bin!!

Highland Jennie, hiya again.
I too grow persicara red it.
It does suffer from frosts....can you fleece it for a while ?
I regularly split or chop pieces from it ...pot them up or plant them out. Nice with artemisia Powys castle or aster frikartii
Your lobelia too doesn't like frost. I used to sell plants and regularly dug this up, separate into small pieces and pot up. If me, I would dig it up, split and grow on in the greenhouse....treat as tender perennial. But, watch watering.....they love water. I have grown this in a pool where it thrives

Spinach, regardles of what sort, just doesn't like me! I've tried it in garden soil and bought compost, in rows and just scattered, but no, nothing but one or two pop up and that's it. It's the frozen stuff for me now.  Delphiniums and lupins never last for more than one summer. The plants that love me the most are weeds!

I would love to be able to grow Lily of the Valley,Snowdrops and Blue poppies in our garden - I have tried many times without success
I have just ordered 2 Meconopsis Lingholm as they were on offer for 1p + p and p
Pam LL x