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The Dead Plant Society

DeadPlantCoffeCan I’ve been taking a look at the coffee can on the shelf where all the labels collect, the labels from the plants which are no longer with us. The Dead Plant Society. It's not necessarily as sad as it sounds.

Needless to say, it’s been added to recently as the fall clean up confirms the absence of plants which never peeped through on time in spring. But, also, a space behind a label may reveal something else.

Some plants are definitely very very dead, including the white mophead Hydrangea ‘Queen of Pearls’. It’sHydrangeaTag odd, some mophead/Hortensia hydrangeas do well here in chilly zone 5 and others get clobbered. “Can be grown in Zone 5 with good winter protection” says the website. No, I’m not going to protect some hydrangeas when others are happy without it. ‘Princess Lace’, in the same series, and ‘Forever and Ever Red’ are not dead.

Also very, very dead are:
Echinacea ‘Lilliput’ – not all echinaceas can cope with a combination of not quite enough sun and drainage not quite good enough either.
Aster ‘Marie III’ – don’t really care for these Yoder asters, the flower form is poor and I hate the way they go from ‘Marie’ to ‘Marie II’ and so on as they “improve” the individual colors. There‘s ‘Peter III’ as well, also dead!
Chrysanthemum ‘Will’s Wonderful’ – mentioned often on TP, most recently here. A great loss.
HibsicusTag Hibiscus ‘Peppermint Schnapps’ – yes, gone gone gone. Bred in tropical Florida. Not a good candidate for the frozen north. Stick with those from bred in icy Michigan by Walters Gardens.
Ranunculus ficaria ‘Double Bronze’ (and others) – I shipped just about all the double, and therefore non-invasive, varieties over from England but every one has now died. The single one thrives all too well on a river bank 150 miles away.

Also genuinely gone are some heucheras: weevils munching through the roots, I fear; Helleborus argutifolius: well, it does come from Corsica, zone 9; and all but two buddlejas… invasive? Hah! Not here.

But sometimes there’s just nothing behind the label
Achillea ‘Pomegranate’ – The deer ate (yes, I know achilleas are supposed to be deer-resistant)… The deer ate the ones planted outside the fence while they were soft and succulent and not sufficiently pungently off-putting. Those inside the fence are fine.
Aster novae-angliae ‘Snow Flurries’ – lovely white form of the New England aster found along a lonely road in Cattaraugus County, New York. Actually, it’s thriving. The birds moved the label to another bed. Thanks guys.
Athyrium ‘Ghost’ – It’s there, it’s gorgeous, its tag is fluttering down the driveway.AthyriumGhostTag
Vinca ‘Giant Steps’ – I think it grew so violently that it flung the label across to the other side of the garden. Currently escaping through the deer fence and looking at total eradication in the spring. So, yes, dead – one way or another.

And that’s only a sample from one coffee can… How many more cans are there?!


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This is a great post Graham, and useful information too -- thanks! We tend (or choose) to too easily forget our not-so-successful attemps at growing a plant in our gardens.

For me, Sedum 'Chocolate Sauce', a very impressive plant (with dark brown, glossy foliage) in its first year, simply disappeared by mid-summer. While I have some hope it will return, it certainly did not have a long season of interest.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the snow! ;)

Graham Rice

Thanks Mark. Gotta finish the "fall" clean up before the snow! So much to do these last few weeks...


Graham - I'm having the opposite problem. It seems something is pulling up my plant tags and biting them in two. They aren't harming the plants, however.

Graham Rice

That's very odd... Never heard of that before. Tooth marks?

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