The coreopsis are missing


I hadn’t thought about it until a few days ago, but ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis is gone without a trace. Vanished, as if it was never planted, which is just as well. I believe that I’ve seen Moonbeam coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata “Moonbeam’, below) listed as a “can’t fail” perennials, and now I’ve killed it twice through the years, perhaps even three times. I suppose I should be embarrassed, so it’s best that there’s no sign that it was ever here.

Some perennials decline through the years if they are not divided to prevent overcrowding, but the coreopsis was planted two years ago, though it could have been three. There were two, or possibly three plants initially (I don’t recall), planted in good soil in a spot that I thought had adequate sunlight, but has proved to be too shady, or too damp, or whatever. They bloomed last year in June, though not as vigorously as I expected, and then disappeared. After a second (or third) failure  I will probably admit defeat and not plant coreopsis again.

I have far more successes than failures in the garden, so I’m not terribly upset that the coreopsis failed. In fact, even when well grown I’ve never been overly excited by it, but I refused to accept that I wasn’t competent enough to grow a perennial that’s flourishes everywhere except in my garden. Now, I’ve confirmed that coreopsis and my gardening skills are not a good fit, so I’ll move on.

The weather continues to swing oddly from hot and dry to wet, but in late June I don’t know of a gardener who will complain about regular rainfall. After the extreme heat a few weeks ago lush foliage was beginning to fade and turn crispy along the edges, but with almost daily thunderstorms plants have perked up and are looking quite happy. The Asiatic lilies (above and below) don’t appear to have suffered in the heat, though it would not be surprising if the flowers lasted a few days shorter than in cooler temperatures. Unless the gardener tracks these things obsessively the differences in the length of bloom are hardly noticeable.

Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus mollis, below) is blooming, and it’s difficult for me to tell exactly when it’s at its peak, but the tall spike is ornamental for a few weeks prior to peak bloom, and for a month following. Warnings are often posted on garden sites that acanthus will seed itself about the garden, but I have planted it in a bed of spreading Liriope spicata, and have not seen a single seedling. There was no planning involved, and I would be happy to have a few seedlings to plant around.

Earlier in the spring I planted a variegated acanthus (Acanthus mollis ‘Whitewater’) with leathery glossy green foliage marbled with white. The effect is quite splendid if you enjoy variegated plants, which I do, and I expect that it will be as sturdy as the plain green version.

In the past few years dozens of heucheras and coneflowers have been introduced, and several have proven to be fragile and short lived. The coneflowers in my garden don’t stand up well to competition, and so several have faded as neighbors bullied them into submission. The tall growing ‘Magnus’ (Echinacea purpurea ‘magnus, above) has proven more resilient than most of the newcomers, though the more compact, white flowering ‘Coconut Lime’ and later flowering (for me) ‘Tomato Soup’ have stood up well.

Over the years I’ve lost a few established clumps of bee balm (Monarda didyma, above) as dense  shade from neighboring shrubs encroached. In a garden predominated by trees and shrubs, this will happen occasionally if I don’t pay enough attention to transplant things before they are lost. Perhaps the coreopsis could have been saved by moving them to a more hospitable location, but I’m content to rationalize that it just wasn’t meant to be.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Kay Minter says:

    I am encouraged to hear that you have perennials that don’t make it in your garden. I am always dismayed when I lose one, especially when I consider the cost. But you win some, you lose some. I have some beautiful lush perennials that have grown very well, and I guess I need to think on that.

    1. Dave says:

      Sometimes I think that the only reason I’m optimistic about the garden is that my memory is so poor. When perennials die they often leave no trace, so when I walk past I think that there was something there a while ago, but I can’t recall what. Oh well, if that wasn’t happy there, something else will be.

  2. Crystal says:

    The exact same thing happened to my Coreopsis “Moonbeam’ as well. My landscape designer recommended it and we put in 5 of them in Spring 2009, and they performed beautifully and bloomed till frost. Then in Spring 2010 they barely came back at all, just a few wisps of stems, and this year they are completely vanished.

    I’m also having trouble with Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’, it’s breaking into smaller and smaller clumps each year and I suspect there may be grubs eating the roots or something. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Dave says:

      Problems with perennials (and plants in general) can usually be traced to the soil, either too wet or dry. Many perennials are short lived plants, and their stay is further shortened by too much or too little sun or competition from neighboring plants. There are plenty of long lived perennials, and I’ve only found the ones that work in my garden through trial and error.

      Gardening is a process of discovery, and through the years I’ve learned to move on from failures to look forward to giving another plant an opportunity.

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