What 'interesting' bits of gardening have you seen?

Thyme2dig NH Zone 5May 19, 2011

I'm sure we've all seen the mounds and mounds of mulch piles around trees at various public buildings. I'm certain this is a way for building management companies to make more money by using extra mulch, but then also charging to replant the trees when they die! At least that's my theory and I'm sticking to it!

I've been noticing some other "interesting" things as I drive around.

Last year I watched as a landscaper installed a big berm in someone's yard. They planted all sorts of perennials and a couple shrubs. Here's the kicker....the berm was made entirely of sand. I swear it looked like kids could have played trucks on the berm or it was going to be used as a giant litter box. Surprise, surprise! All the plants this spring, well nearly all of them are DEAD. Those poor homeowners probably have no idea what "they" did wrong.

And then I saw something driving home the other day that made me gasp/scream. Literally, I let out an almost wail-like sound of mourning. My neighbors down the road have the most gorgeous white magnolia stellata. I've admired it for years wishing it was in my yard. I came home from work and saw that they cut it back ever so randomly. Not coppiced or any type of logical pruning. They just took loppers to it and cut, and cut, and cut. There are green little sprigs of leaves on it now, but I almost want to cry every time I see this poor tree. I'm not sure what they were thinking.

So, what odd garden things have you seen in your travels that makes you stop and wonder.....WHY????

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Well I bemoan crape "murder" every year, and those mulch volcanoes. It makes me want to prune my neighbors trees when I see tons of suckers at the base of a tree, and errant limbs that would be so easy to prune off. On my walks, I pass a front yard with 2 very large Bradford pear trees that completely covers the yard and house, and underneath these very thick and overgrown trees and 2 stunted crape myrtles literally hidden under there. I just don't understand why?
If you haven't already, you should visit the website called renegade gardener, which addresses some of the crazy things like this that people do. I think his column for that is called "Don't Do That!"

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:11PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Box shaped azaleas and boxed rose of Sharon, and the same row of Stella d oros are what I get to see across the street! And to make matters worse, the same neighbor has a sign for their sons landscaping business in the yard as if to advertise something spectacular! Makes me laugh every time!
I've also seen trees with the tops chopped off under power lines. Please just get rid of the tree!
Also I really dislike seeing a bed of mulch without many plants. My inlaws built 2 rather large beds, with maybe 7 plants each, no cohesion at all and way too much space between. Those plants they chose aren't going to spread that far! And they also cut their beautiful rhododendron down to a foot because it was too big for the space they allowed. I don't think it'll recover from that!
And finally, I pass a house that had the most beautiful roses that they one day hacked down to 3 inch stubs, so painful to see! They don't seem to have returned this year.
Makes me sad to see those mulch volcanos! don't you ever want to just stop and tell people politely some helpful hints ? I do! :)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:24PM
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Years ago when I was working away from home and renting a house with yard maintenance included there was a lovely forsythia shrub in full bloom when I went to work one morning. When I returned home that evening the shrub had been chain-sawed down to within a foot of the ground. The landlady had had her friend 'prune' this poor shrub. I felt like crying.

I recently attended a home and garden show and one of the new landscapers showed photos of his work. Most of the homes had various colored stone mulches and paving over a good percentage of the yards. This would perhaps be appropriate in a hot dry desert-like climate but not in this rural area. I wonder how long he'll stay in business if he doesn't start doing more rustic/casual 'green' landscaping.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 12:20AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I'm a fan of the Facebook page "Crimes Against Horticulture."
My college is a gold mine of this sort of head-scratching gardening. An area in front of a newish building has been entirely landscaped with natives and drought-tolerant plants, which have finally begun to fill in. So last month, the gardeners carved everything into cubes, balls, and hockey pucks. I can't wait to see what they do to the oak tree...

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 1:10AM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

Last weekend I visited friends in northern NJ. There were lawn service trucks everywhere, perfectly good house torn down and "mansions" built with professional landscaping that used a preponderence of trees, shrubs and hostas. Some of The landscaping alone probaly cost well over $10,000. The whole area looked much different than when last seen over 50 years ago.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 4:35AM
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I really hate that bright orangy fusia mulch. gag. And there is a local landscaper that has a display garden and who also landscaped my neighbor's front bed. They use one of every type of shrub in a circle. So just a circle bed and shrubs doing ring a round the rosy. All completely different unrelate shrubs. it just looks bizarre.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:55AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Crape Murder definitely has to go on this list. This landscape crime has a facebook page devoted to complaints about it.

Here is a link that might be useful: FB Crape Murder page

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 9:27AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Susan, gasp indeed! Did they prune the magnolia up because it was in the way of something? The lovely natural shape will be ruined now ;-(

Same thing here. The thing I REALLY don't get is why people have to trim back so far when there is nothing for the plant to interfere with. I could see it if it were growing into power lines, or over a sidewalk or fire hydrant. But if the plant is in a bed big enough to accommodate it why even bother?? It is like people fear 'untidiness' in the garden and think all hell will break loose if they don't shear it back to a Perfectly Round Ball.

The guy next door is one of those "Mow n' Blow" guys that likes his power tools. The poor Diervilla gets a buzz cut every couple of months, making it look as if you could put a scoop of ice cream on top of the cone shape!

Then the most terrible thing I have seen on my walks...this one house has a couple of bird nest evergreens in front of their house. They have literally taken the trimmers and gone all the way around the shrub to keep it 'in line'. So you can see all of the woody/twiggy interior and the only green is a little mound on top. Makes me laugh since I keep mine "pruned" for a small space. Only I go out every spring and carefully nip each of the little buds of new needles as they come on ;-)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 1:25PM
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The one thing I hate to see is people planting these trees right next to the house,don't they realize in time they will be huge and so will the roots which will ruin the house's foundation.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 6:45PM
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I still want to cry when I think of the huge, very old tree that my neighbor, who bought the house where I formerly rented, cut down. It was positioned on a slight rise between the house and garage. My good friend's husband made a swing for my daughter (which I left in the garage for them, but they never put up) and then one day, the tree was cut down (grave injury) and they put pots of flowers on and around the stump (insult)! It was a healthy shagbark hickory that you couldn't put your arms around. I bet they were bothered by the woodpeckers looking for bugs, or the copius amounts of twigs that blew down in spring. Too bad.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:07PM
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I hate when i see gardens that have everything all lined up according to height/size.Makes me think of soldiers standing at attention.MY dh was this way when he first started gardening,and i told him "those are flowers,not your troops!! Oh and by the way add something whimiscal,garden art etc.He'sdoing better now,thank goodness.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 1:01AM
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I think we should pool our stories and publish a Darwin Awards volume for gardening stupidity. The neighbor across the road from me uses his cigar to light his 7 ft. tall ornamental grasses on fire in the fall or spring. Apparently burning them down is less strenuous than whacking them with the trimmers. The first year this occurred, I awakened, looked out the window and nearly had heart failure seeing the fire truck in front of my house. Since I use a woodstove for heat, I naturally thought the fire was at MY house. Then I watched a fireman drag a hose up the hill toward the neighbor's man-made pond and I figured out the problem: the burning grasses had set the landscape timbers that support the lower side of the pond afire. Same story repeated in each subsequent year I've lived here, irrespective of current prevailing weather (i.e., drought) conditions.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 6:57AM
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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

Ug, gardenweeds story might take the cake, that is truly stupid to a very high degree..

What I PERSONALLY dont care for , so if you do this, I am sorry, this is personal taste only. Is the Orange mulch.

It might be the most terrifically tacky awful item that is sold around the country. Im guessing some people think that it looks like cedar or something.

I prefer mulching with compost, or hay, or both, or heck horse manure, pine needles, grass clippings ect ect.. Ive done and used them all.

Also, the prepondarnce and stupidty of hard working professional landscapers never seems to amaze me. Its not that they dont try, but they read some article in easy care landscaping somewhere that tells them, YOU MAY only plant 1 type of yew tree, 1 type of daylily, 1 type or rose.

You may not use any other material, forget all perrenials, as they cant possibly work.

BTW the dayliles work fine, but seeing banks and banks of stellas, ug, to infinity. People in maine thing dayliles are either a agreesive ditch planted item, or small yellows.

Ive actually shown pictures of my seedlings to people who told me that they are not daylilies, that i must be mistaken, THEY literally wouldnt believe a daylily could look like what they do.

Also, the rose they always use knockout, isnt highly dependably hardy here. So you see swaths of dead roses in these professional landscapes, they replace them, with you guessed it, more knockout roses.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 5:41PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Silverkelt, you know what the 'Mow n' Blow' neighbor said the other day? I said he wanted to get the mulch that was "chunks of wood" that can be spray painted with mulch stain when it fades!! Ha!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:12PM
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It is very hard to be a cottage gardener, an organic gardener, a composter and mulcher and to have neighbors who are not. It can be stressful.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 9:05PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Just got back from a weekend away for a party for my DH's grandmother's 100th birthday! It was amazing. I've now been having fun reading everyone's experience with garden craziness.

Renee, maybe those folks wanted to teach kindergarteners their shapes?!?

I never knew Crape Murder was so common. On some of my trips down south I have seen some "weird" stuff done to them.

Luckygal, that amazes me that someone could cut down a shrub when it is blooming and showing off its full worth.

Louisianagal, thanks for that website. I have only had a chance to quickly peruse it, but it looks quite interesting and right up my alley. I must admit to you that I also would love to prune other's trees. Sometimes I wonder if I could sneak into the yards at midnight and do some undercover pruning. I wonder if the homeowners would even notice that their crabapple suddenly looks like a tree instead of a scraggly shrub. Do you get grief from your neighbors because they think your cottage style is not tidy enough? Are they neighbors that have perfectly manicured lawns and pour chemicals all over everything? You probably have such a circle of life in your garden that they would never even be able to imagine.

Lf, I also love the trees at power lines that have had their middle branches chopped out so they straddle the lines and look deformed. Do they not chop the trees down because they don't want to deal with the stumps? I've never been able to figure that out.

Hurlee, up for a game of "Duck, Duck, SHRUB!!" I can't even picture what that circle of shrubs would look like. Any chance you can get a picture of it, or is it something you just have to see in person to believe?

Christin, the worst part about the random cutting of the magnolia is that it was perfectly placed (by the homeowners prior). If they had only limbed it up I don't think I would have been so shocked. They just wacked away at almost every branch and but it back for no apparent reason. It is in a semi-circular border as the focal point in front of their big window in the front of their house. It is far enough away from the house and there is nothing that it interferes with. It really was one of the most beautiful stellatas I've seen around here. I still can't figure out what possessed them to cut it. Do you think those neighbors who buzz-cut their birds nest spruce talk about you saying how crazy you are nipping away ever so carefully at yours!?! LOL! It's truly amazing how many people think electric hedge trimmers or worse, chain saws are the best pruning tool. Yes, in some cases it's just the ticket, but then I think some people get a bit carried away about making quick work of something.

Prairiegirlz5, I want to cry that they cut down the tree! That is terrible. It never ceases to amaze me how attached gardeners can become to plants, shrubs and trees that aren't even in our own yards. There are so many beautiful things I see and when someone commits a crime against it I get so sad. I really am a bit in mourning about the magnolia tree my neighbors cut. I know it sounds crazy, but I look foward to that tree blooming every year. I hope it survives.

Kathi, I must admit when I was a new gardener in my first year I was a bit of a liner-upper. I read everything about the plants and then sorted them by size and planted accordingly. But then I guess I realized that half the time the plants don't always "do" what they're supposed to do which is probably a good thing because it made me realize a more relaxed look is much nicer.

Silverkelt, I have to agree with the orange mulch. I'm not a fan of the way it looks, but if it were a little more natural I don't think I would mind it as much. I've heard over and over that it is shredded pallets dyed red so I have to assume that is the case. If it were some kind of "real" red cedar or something, that might be a little more palatable. The thought of people paying good money for something treated with dye doesn't sit right with me. Thanks for the info on Knockout roses. I've been thinking they are not for our colder zones based on what my one rose looks like in my garden compared to the amazing Knockouts I see down south.

Gardenweed!! You definitely get the blue ribbon for the best story! That is insane!!!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 2:54PM
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mehearty(So ME z5a)

Hold the phone on the Knockouts! They've been very hardy for me. I barely have any winter die-back with KO. My other roses look horrible after the snow melts.

I don't want to make anyone feel badly, but this just cropped up recently because they are in bloom right now. I told my son the other day that you can usually spot older landscaping because there will be both a rhododendron and forsythia in the front yard. Then nothing else blooms in the front for the rest of the season. I do think it's a crime against horticulture (great site!) when either of those shrubs are forced into cubes or balls.

Some day my son will be driving around with his kids and will say that you can spot older landscaping by all the Endless Summer hydrangeas and KnockOut roses (my personal staples). lol

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 5:13PM
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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

Me Hearty where are you at? Im about 20 miles west of portland, and there isnt any roses in bloom? Even my double scots white and harrison yellow hasnt bloomed yet and those are very early bloomers?

If you are closer to the cost or farther south than me , they are probably better, Ive seen them have no dieback in massachusetts before. So yes they are hardy.. just not really as hardy as some people want to make them. They are probably crown hardy enough for most near zone 4 people.

But they are very heavily used in the landscape, and I see them die alot in the professional plantings around here.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 7:28PM
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I love these kinds of threads. OK, I'll admit, I'm a knockout fan. I get the double red and double pink knockouts and they're fantastic.

What I've seen, and don't understand, are people who plant one thing randomly in the middle of their lawn, not in bed or border, near a tree or the house. I've seen one lone peony and an ornamental grass planted in this manner, and neve have been able to figure that out. Are they expecting it to grow to a large size, or multiply???

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 10:23AM
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Um, folks...I find it a dubious honor to win this contest.

chardie - I can't say I've seen what you describe but I myself have the most lopsided curved butterfly bed you could imagine. Even designing the bed on paper and carefully plotting heights & colors, it ended up with all the tall blue flowering plants in the west half of the bed and all the low-growing white plants in the east end. Been scratching my head the past few years over how I managed that goof-up! I have enough winter sown perennials to plant the east end with more colorful & taller plants this year so a more balanced look should be achieved shortly.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 2:37PM
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mehearty(So ME z5a)

We're in a similar area Silverkelt. There are no roses in bloom yet, but my KOs have buds (yay!!). Sorry if I was confusing. I meant the rhodies and the forsythia were blooming now.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 3:33PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Chardie, I was just at the house of a friend a couple weeks ago. She had recently purchased the 4-yr old house. The person who lived there before was some sort of gardener because they had some really great plant material including some nice trees. BUT, the trees were plunked in all over the yard in a random fashion with no cohesion at all. Even my friend who is not a gardener made the comment that she didn't know what they were thinking or what the purpose was. I have seen exactly what you're talking about quite a bit and hadn't thought about it until you mentioned it. There's a house not far from me where they bought a bunch of hostas and planted them randomly throughout their lawn. I had to do a double-take on that one.

Gardenweed, I'd love to see pics of your butterfly bed with all your new WS stuff. I'm a lurker on the WS forum and it sounded like you had so much going on with wintersowing.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 5:04PM
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