Gardeners are getting downright confessional.

If you had a chance to visit the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle this winter, you might have noticed several talks about garden bloopers. And these weren't just any gardeners. Heronswood Nursery luminary Dan Hinkley and witty garden writer Valerie Easton joined other garden colleagues to talk about "The Biggest Bloopers We'll Admit To."

While I committed a blooper myself by not getting to the door of the lecture hall in time and ending up missing the session, I've been making some garden mistakes of my own lately, and I thought I'd share them with you.

• In an effort to conserve, I've been recycling bath and cooking water for use on my potted containers. I'm a child of 1970s drought-stricken Northern California, mind you, so the thought of hand-carrying bowls of bath water to the garden is nothing new. Sometimes I even add a little liquid plant fertilizer to the carrying bowl to give my flowering baskets a boost. This system has worked well and brings me satisfaction - the garden is full of weeds, there are pots to be planted, the cats are hungry, but I'm saving water. So, I wasn't thinking too clearly several weeks ago when I boiled up a pot of the season's first corn from the grocery store. After dinner, I took the still hot pan of water outside and carefully poured it into a potted hebe plant. Yes, the plant pot was steaming. That should have been my first sign, but I was recycling and nothing was going to stop me. Two days later, the leaves starting browning up and dropping off. It's been two weeks now, and the leaf drop situation has about stabilized (i.e., there are very few hanging leaves left). I hope the plant makes it.

• Who is immune to the charms of bamboo? I certainly am guilty of fantasizing about a huge bamboo grove that would block the sound and sight of the road project taking place across from our farm. This fantasy bamboo could run all it liked, barricading our house from the construction as crews and their equipment prepare to basically move part of a hillside.

In reality, we are the keepers of two small bamboo patches - a small and contained black bamboo that properly blocks the wind and afternoon sun from hitting the greenhouse, and a larger stand near the entry to our driveway. It is the latter stand that I suppose could be considered a blooper, for two reasons. First of all, I don't know its Latin name. I don't know its genus or species. The species name in particular would be quite helpful, since the second part of Latin names are quite descriptive. We moved this bamboo from a Svensen garden about five years ago, when its owner prepared to retire to Arizona. Could this be a running bamboo, whose real ambition is to take over the world? So far, it's made mild forays toward the rest of the yard, and therein lies the risk, and the second problem. This bamboo patch is planted next to our ... drum roll, please ... slow sand filter. The filter is a septic cleaning system that consists of a mound and multitude of pipes. It's at least as expensive as a year of public college tuition, and we have an unidentified bamboo growing right next to it.

• On the same topic of planting things next to each other that shouldn't be neighbors, our Clematis montana vine is much too close to the house. Here's a description of the variety from my trusty American Horticultural Society's "A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants" - "Early flowering, very vigorous climber." Other phrases in the description include "produces very freely." Friends, owning this clematis is like having a pink nimbus cloud descend upon your garden each spring. Ours blooms the week of our son's birthday in April, so we're a bit sentimental about reining it in. But tame it we should. I noticed recently that it is creeping up into the roof and making its way, in all of its foo-foo pink charm, under a shake.

Cathy Peterson belongs to the Clatsop County Master Gardener Association. "In the Garden" runs weekly in Coast Weekend. Please send comments and gardening news to "In the Garden," The Daily Astorian, P.O. Box 210, Astoria, OR 97103 or online at


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.