Tag Archives: Canada thistle

Tour of the garden – 6/6/17

Today’s tour is less “Oh what a great combination” or “Wow, what a beautiful garden you’ve composed” or “I need to add that to my garden” and more “That’s a problem” or “Hmmm, interesting”.


I jumped the gun

If you recall, I complained in a recent post about the coloration of my Tsuga (Canadian hemlock) ‘Moon Frost’. The new growth was yellow and not bright white as advertised.

I should be smacked around for such a petty complaint and smacked around even more for my lack of patience. Check out ‘Moon Frost’ just a week and a half later.


That is what I’m talking about!

Lesson learned: Be patient and then be even more patient when it comes to plant development.

I’m a sucker

I’m totally enamored with the shrub Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’ (I’m such a pompous ass for calling it that, let’s go with False Spirea ‘Sem’). The foliage color and leaf shape gives it such a presence in my overly green garden.

I posted a similar photo on Instagram and a thoughtful “follower” warned me of its desire to sucker like a champ.

Wouldn’t you know it, it didn’t take very long to come to fruition.

I have two of these in an area where they can fill in to their heart’s content but I’ll have to see how it all looks once the suckering kicks into high gear.

I couldn’t “bare” to show you

I don’t know that I’ve ever referenced my Serviceberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’ in a blog post. That has been intentional since it has been a big disappointment ever since it was planted back in 2011.

Here it is today, very top heavy in terms of foliage.

A lot of bare branches …

And don’t get me started on the flowers (little impact), the berries (virtually none) and the fall color (leaves don’t last beyond September). It has been let down city.

But … there may be happiness on the horizon.

I just noticed today that it is producing new branches with actual leaves from its base. I don’t need this to look like a tree. I just want leaves and foliage.

Close but no cigar

For the past two years, I’ve seen major re-seeding of Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ in my garden. New plants are popping up everywhere in spring now that I’ve refrained from cutting off the flowers and allowing the seeds to spread. I found that the flowers took away from the real selling point of this perennial, the dark foliage, so I’d chop them off as soon as they emerged. I’ve since changed my mind realizing the bees love the flowers and who can deny bees pleasure.

Upon closer inspection, it’s clear that the new seedlings do not match up perfectly in terms of size, color and leaf shape with the parent ‘Husker Red’.

Below, the plant on the left is a new seedling and the one on the right is the original plant.

The seedling is taller, not as dark in color and the leaves are larger.

The “original” ‘Husker Red’.

Hmmm, interesting.

My apple tree knowledge is rusty

Oh shit.

I’ll need some time to research which rust this is, but the color terrifies me already. My apple trees are still juvenile but I don’t want to see them fail so soon.

That was fast

Exactly one year ago, I divided a bunch of Physostegia (Obedient plant) ‘Vivid’ and used it to fill in a bare area of the garden.

Mission accomplished quickly, check out the front of this bed.

If at first you succeed, do that same thing again.


This hurts. How did we get here?


Always thinking and planning

I was shocked to find this one Astilbe alive and well. I planted three of them last summer and allowed them to burn to a crisp. I gave up hope this spring only to discover this gift this morning.

Light bulb moment: since there is only this one Astilbe and I have room in this newly developing shade container. Hmm.

More is good

One theme of my garden planning this spring has been massing plants where I can. With a large garden, massing is necessary to keep things in balance and to maximize impact. With that in mind, I bunched all of my Lady’s Mantle together and I’m thrilled with the results.

The supply is running out

I’ve been cutting peony blooms at a rapid pace this past week so they can be enjoyed indoors and not droop to the ground with our excessive rain. I’ve supplied my wife with endless flowers that she is proudly displaying at her place of work. To say that her co-workers have … wait for it … wait for it … wait for it … peony envy is an understatement.

Unfortunately, that supply is dwindling.

Do I have to?

Dividing an ornamental grass is no easy task, but it is time to do so with my Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’. The centers of all three grasses are empty …

… and they all look spent and in need of some rejuvenation.

Understanding my priorities

Our insane dog gets loose at least once a week. When she does so she is gone for like 45 minutes and we have no chance of catching her. She eventually returns soaking wet, bleeding from her eyelids and covered in ticks. Fun.

We do our best to track her down to ensure she isn’t running in traffic or starting a brawl with the local coyotes.

Today I just want you all to know that I willingly ran over an ornamental grass in order to quickly initiate the hunt this past week via car.

I know my priorities.

She’ll bounce back.

The grass that is.

The latest and not always greatest in the garden

Some observations from out in the garden:

This white bee balm is the only one to have survived last winter and while it is nice to see it blooming, it honestly doesn’t do much for me and the powdery mildew is real bad, worse than with all of the other bee balm. We don’t know until we try, right?

white bee balm


Right plant for the right location = happiness, as seen with the Physostegia (Obedient Plant) below. This first photo was taken back in May when I dug up and divided a massive batch of these and relocated them to my newly extended and very empty garden bed.

divided obedient

Two months later and they are thriving in a very wet and full sun location. I am very psyched for the massive pink display to arrive next month.

obedient vivid


You’ve all seen all of my numerous pics of Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ and read my raving reviews of this perennial but in the spirit of my last post and with full disclosure, here is the reality of the “legs” on these right now.

veronica bad

Fortunately, I’ve shielded most of them with other low lying plants so the blooms remain the attraction.

veronica good


I love how one ‘Karl Foerster’ grass (Calamagrostis) can break up a mass of perennials and not only lend a different height/uprightness, but a different texture as well.

front bed


I cleared this area of nasty Canada Thistle by cutting them all at soil level and not by attempting to pull out the roots like a dope which has failed me miserably for years now since it actually multiplies the number of weeds when pieces of root break off.

thistle path

I will now finally track the results properly. Here is one example of the cutting.

thistle cut

And about one week later. I’m going to now cut it back again soon and will continue to do so until it kills itself by sapping all of the plant’s energy. Or so I hope. More to come.



I just purchased a few ‘Delft Lace’ Astilbes solely because I fell in love with the red stems and red tinged foliage. I’ll be sure to track this one for you and hopefully I don’t fry them since you know, they need constant moisture and it is the dead of summer. Smart.

delft astilbe


My attempt at a path with a true destination worth visiting.


These purplish bee balm are incredible right now and are my favorite current place in the garden. 

planter bed 2


planter bed


bee balm 2

They are bringing in a ton of visitors. 

hummingmoth 2


butterfly bee balm 2


Check out all of the action with this video.

QOTD – Where do you purchase most of your plants? And I want specific names and locations please.

Thank you.


Mixed bag

A bunch of different items for today:

1)Last year I talked about my battle with Canada Thistle and it is even worse so far this year. Like close to pushing me over the edge worse.

canada thistle

That ornamental grass above is in danger of being fully enveloped by these bully weeds. Just yanking them out of the ground hoping to get the entire root system has not worked.

Here’s my plan (which was really the original plan last year) going forward.


2)My latest Social Media obsession is Snapchat. I’m still trying to grasp how to utilize it for gardening and plant purposes but I will get there. Take a deep breath and give it a whirl won’t you? And if you do, add this wanna-be-15-year-old-who-looks-more-and-more-like-a-43-year-old-every-day.



3)Within the next week or so, I will be fortunate enough to trial an “automower” from Husqvarna. Much more to come on this one and yes, it is a robotic lawn mower. How cool is that?

4)Have I mentioned just how over the top pumped I am for my three Andropogon ‘Red October’? And they all just emerged within the past few days.



5)Mia is still kind of awesome …


… and spoiled





Canada Thistle Removal

Here is a picture of a peony.


Pretty, right? Well that is the end of pretty for today. Hope you enjoyed it.

My last few posts have focused on the the progress in my garden and how wonderful it all looks. Fun stuff for sure, but I need to get a dirty little secret off of my chest. More than ever before, I’m fighting off a vicious attack from …

Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense):

canadian thistle 2

And there is no one to blame but myself.

I enjoy weeding. I really do. I’ve even considered creating an exercise video based on the core movements required for proper weeding. It is a test of strength, mobility and a lightness of touch needed to ensure the entire root system has been removed.

But not all weeds are created equally. And unfortunately, I’m a “once and done” weed guy. I never spray chemicals and in fact, never use any sort of spray, even if it is natural and safe. I don’t have the patience to wait for them to die; once I am in eradication mode, I want them out of sight.

This works well for some weeds and not for others. Who can forget my journey with Red Sorrel? I’m still fighting that battle; but we can discuss that at another time.

Similar to how I first attacked the red sorrel, when the Canada Thistle started to pop up in high volume, I grabbed my gloves and a trowel and went to work.

I dug deep enough to be able to grab the roots without touching the painful barbs and softly yanked them out trying to grab as much of the root as possible.

Once and done.

Out of sight and out of mind.

But not so fast.

Within no time, the Canada Thistle was back and badder than before. Like literally within the week. Most intelligent beings would research why this was the case, but not me. I went back to popping them out only to see them emerge again, nearly doubling in count. They were like the frickin Gremlins.

canadian thistle

canadian thistle 3

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times … and it is time to hit up Google.

Damn was I doing it all wrong.

I knew the Canada Thistle root system was extensive, but up to 15 feet deep? Holy s. And each time you break off a root by pulling it out of the ground, you are theoretically creating two new plants by splitting the root in half. Double the bastards to deal with in the future. Why didn’t I just take a minute to read up on this before jumping into the fray blindly?

Well now I’ve learned and it is time to attack these in a different way.  As I’ve now read, the best option is to prepare for a long and drawn out battle. By cutting them to the ground first and then cutting off the subsequent new growth on a weekly basis, the nutrient reserves in the roots are slowly spent and eventually, this perennial will die (or so we should hope).

So that is what I did.

canadian thistle 5

canadian thistle 6

And as you can see, there were kind of a lot to deal with.

canadian thistle 4

The goal is to keep this up on a regular basis and under no circumstances can I allow them to flower so they can spread their ugly little wings.

canadian thistle 7

And while this may prove to be a successful plan, the absolute best option is to plant, plant and plant. As the old adage goes, give weeds no exposure to the sun and no room to grow. For me, my best bet is to plant Bee Balm and let it take over.

bee balm

It is working in many areas of the garden so why not grow them everywhere?

More to come as the new canada thistle weeding plan unfolds.