Bring out your dead!

Some posts are pretty, involving interesting plants with colorful blooms and lush foliage. This is not one of those posts, because it came about from my attempts to clear off my driveway. Yes, the driveway that this year became essentially a garden center, covered in pots of all sorts of plants.

I've gotten at least 80% of the pots removed, and there are just a few sad specimens left. Even though they're just stems, it's easy to know what each of them contains right now -- there are a few small dappled willows, some river birch saplings, some butterfly bush seedlings, and then there are the hyssops.


The Agastache foeniculum seedlings that I couldn't bring myself to throw away, so potted up. They ended up sitting on the driveway all summer, longing for a nice bed to be planted in somewhere. I gave away a few and planted a few, but there are still a dozen or so left.

The thing is, some of them may be dead. What's worse than having too many pots of plants than you know what to do with? Too many pots of dead plants.

Most of them look exactly the same on top, just like this:

I'm aware that each of these seed heads has already successfully sprinkled its contents all over the beds next to the driveway. It's the other end that's important right now though -- if any of these shows no sign of being alive at its crown, it's into the compost pile!

This one is easy:

Obviously alive and doing really well. The Agastaches put out basal (at the base) growth in the fall which sits there all winter, and then starts growing again once it warms up in the spring. Some of the plants that don't show any basal growth may still come back in the spring, but since I have so many of these I'm not going to give them a chance. If they look dead now, they're gone.

This next one, not so easy:

It looks like it was a small ornamental grass that died, but I kept the pot around because of the Agastache off to the side (upper right part of that photo). Any signs of growth?

So blurry. Look for the slightly purple leaves.
Yes, just a little, but that's enough. So this one survives the cut.

This next one has a lot of stringy sedum in it, and several Agastache stems which pull out very easily -- usually a sign of a rotten crown, which means the plant is probably dead:

Upon closer inspection though, not all of the stems pulled out:

There is some growth after all!

(I don't know why I'm using exclamation points. It's not so exciting that another one of these survived -- I've got dozens of them all over my yard, and will probably have hundreds more seedlings in the spring.)

This next one is certainly dead though:

And this last one is definitely not dead, but it's not an Agastache:

It's a butterfly bush -- another plant that I've got quite a few seedlings of.

So I managed to reduce the number of potted Agastache that I have to store somewhere this winter by 2 or 3. Yippee. I don't even know if it was worth my time to check through them.

These are cold-hardy to zone 4 from what I've read, so at least I don't have to take any special measures with them -- I can just leave them out in the pots and they should survive the winter just fine. I'll move them off the driveway though, since that was the point of this whole exercise.

The day draws near when I can post photos of my clean (or nearly so) driveway. Of course it will probably be covered in snow by that time, but better late than never, right?


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (December 22, 2011 at 10:22 AM)  

Survival of the fittest! You can't save every single plant. That's how I feel about some of my succulents. If they don't make it, well, there are others that will :-)

scottweberpdx  – (December 22, 2011 at 11:46 AM)  

If only we had room for all the seedlings that show up. I have a Persicaria that seeds profusely all around, and as much as it pains me, there is just no way I have room for them I try to give away as many as possible...and the rest go to the big compost heap in the sky. Amazingly, as many Agastache as I have, I've only seen a handful of seedlings (mostly from 'Golden Jubilee'). Of course, most of those are in cracks in the sidewalk :-(

Steve Lau  – (December 22, 2011 at 4:37 PM)  

The greatest part about these deciduous shrubs is that you can just leave them outside all winter since most of them are hardy to zone 3 so it's OK to keep collecting these plants.

Alan  – (December 23, 2011 at 7:00 AM)  

Just to be clear, these are herbaceous perennials, not shrubs: Agastache foeniculum. Unless you're talking about the willows and butterfly bush seedlings, which are shrubs but I only mentioned briefly.

Ally  – (December 23, 2011 at 8:00 AM)  

I, too, can't bring myself to throw away volunteer seedlings. I know they can add up, so I'm glad you were able to cull out enough to clear your drive.

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