Give Your Guilt to Grumpy!

August 17, 2010 | By | Comments (19)

Grumpy kills

With everyone’s tomatoes, petunias, and Himalayan poppies all burned up and looking hideous, it’s fessin’ up time in the Land of the Grump. Fold your hands and answer truthfully. 

* What beautiful plant did you kill through your own sheer neglect?

* What rampaging plant did you try out that’s now taken over your yard?

*  What little plant that you stuck by the front door has now completely hidden your house?

* Why did you say “Yes” to the gap-toothed stranger who offered to trim your bushes?

* Did you scalp your lawn below ground level so it wouldn’t need cutting as much?

* Why did you think a California redwood would be perfect for your yard in Laredo?


The Truth Will Set You Free

I know it’s hard for many of you to admit mistakes in public, but don’t be shy. Even Grumpy kills things. (In most cases, they deserved to die, but that’s beside the point.) Admitting the truth is cathartic — it makes you feel better. It also makes everyone who reads about it and didn’t make that same stupid mistake feel better. So see, it a real win-win for everybody.

Ask Erin Street, who writes our Live Healthy blog. We’re doing a makeover of her front yard. Part of the new planting is a big sweep of ‘Cleopatra’ liriope that produces very showy purple flowers in summer. Erin, a great-niece of Morticia Addams, thought the flowers were weeds. So she picked them off. Guess we won’t be taking pictures of her yard this year! But she fessed up, so she’s forgiven.

Grumpy’s Grand Guilty Give-Away!

Our marketing people tell me readers love giveaways. So I’m announcing the Grumpy Gardener’s First Annual Guilty Giveaway! Just publicly confess to your wrong-doing in this forum and six lucky winners will have all their garden guilt permanently erased.

Don’t be selfish. Help others benefit from your egregious goof-ups. So who’ll be first? What’s the dumbest thing you did in your garden this year?


  1. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    I suggest the Cantrells switch to plastic plants next year and save themselves a lot of heartache.

    August 30, 2010 at 11:40 am
  2. T. Cantrell

    My biggest guilt is when I don’t have enough space downstairs to put plants, and I put them upstairs in a bedroom. I think about watering the plants upstairs and feel really bad about their situation, but later I will go upstairs and check on their poor little corpses! I feel really bad when they die, yet another group will join them next year!

    August 27, 2010 at 5:36 am
  3. T. Cantrell

    We have a lot of boxwoods all around our house! My husband was spraying for bugs around the house and on shrubs. He then realized that he was using brush killer not bug killer! We washed the shrubs off, but now they are missing their middles in the top of the shrub! It is so easy to pick up the wrong sprayer if they look alike, even if they are labeled!

    August 27, 2010 at 5:28 am
  4. Gudrun Pelletier

    My Husband just looks at at Plant and it is dead.

    August 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm
  5. UrsulaV

    I probably don’t have the worst story, but I think I carry the greatest burden of guilt. I bought four Tennessee coneflowers, an endangered plant now being widely propagated through the nursery trade. In my misguided effort to help save the world, I planted them.
    I suspect they’re endangered because rabbits think they’re candy. Two of them were eaten down to nubbins in minutes, so I swung into crisis mode–I can’t kill an endangered species! The guilt! The horror!–and dumped used cat litter around the base of each of the survivors to try and fend off the rabbits.
    It worked for about two days. Then it poured rain, and I can only guess that the jolt of ammonia to the roots finished the work the rabbits had done, because I had four of the deadest coneflowers you ever saw AND the beds smelled like cat urine.
    Even if they’re being sold at Lowes now and there’s plenty of nursery stock, I still felt like I’d clubbed a passenger pigeon.

    August 19, 2010 at 10:45 am
  6. Carolyn

    There are too many mistakes to mention over the years. Why didn’t we leave the yard to grass instead of planting beds front and back (and sides also). Shrubs that grow like weeds – knockout roses, eleagnus, loripedilum. Trees that don’t allow that grass to grow anymore. Help Meeeeeeee!

    August 19, 2010 at 9:46 am
  7. LeighAnn

    I haven’t killed anything this year, but I tend to buy hard-to-kill plants. Yearly I watch my sweet neighbor excitely purchase hanging flowering baskets and then promptly forget to water them! When they begin to die (every year!)she asks me what I think, so I again mention that she might want to water them-twice a day! She’ll do again next year-there’s a lot to be said for tradition!

    August 18, 2010 at 10:27 pm
  8. julianchandler

    I vote for the Roundup story as “Most Like Something I Would Do”. After all, in May I sprayed hairspray in my eyes instead of dry eye spray…twice.
    In the past year, I’ve murdered 7 Rozanne geraniums (too much Oklahoma sun), a scaevola (a beautiful hanging basket brought home and immediately placed in the hottest, sunniest place I could find–right next to the concrete driveway), five ferns (planted too high and forgot to water daily until it was too late), and a dead nettle (planted in sand).
    Then there are some near deaths, but I won’t go into those.

    August 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm
  9. Jim Long

    The dumbest thing I did this year was to enlarge the garden! All I wanted was space for 3 little grape vines. To do that, I had to move a fence. An energetic 20-something intern who was helping me convinced me that giving more space for more things was a good idea. $500 worth of fencing and 3 long days of work later, I now have an 80 x 80 addition to my garden and I can barely keep up with the garden I have. What was I thinking? Now I feel obligated to make beds and plant more plants!

    August 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm
  10. Becky

    One day I was spraying both Deer Off and Roundup as I was in the garden. At the end of the day, I decided to do one last round of Deer Off but, yes you guessed it, grabbed the Roundup. I spent 30 mintues spraying virtually everything in the garden. When I noticed my error, I went into hysterics, followed by commando mode. I got my husband on one hose, I got on another, and we watered every plant that I thought I had sprayed with the Roundup. We watered and rewatered everything for about an hour. I have about 1.5 acres – azaleas, hydrandeas, hosta – a deer lovers haven and I was sick to my stomach with fear as to what I had wrought! Anyway, long story short, the watering worked and each day I looked for wilting and yellowing which never occurred. I didn’t lose a thing! Now I just wear my glasses when spaying!

    August 18, 2010 at 8:47 am
  11. Roscoe

    Well, I have an ostritch (sp?) fern that I put in a nice place somewhat close to a soaker hose, but it is just about a gonner.
    I have several scalped areas in my yard due to my stubborn attempts to not raise the mower another click.
    I have a ‘Lady in Red’ hydrangea that my extension ladder fell on and I hope it will come back.
    Otherwise, it has been an OK year in the yard.

    August 18, 2010 at 7:57 am
  12. MFH

    For the first year ever, my Angel Wing Begonias are stunted and not taking over like they normally do. Of course, we’ve had record temps in SC of 100+ like much of the South. I think the problem with these is that the man I hired to replant these beds put them on an elevated mound and didn’t spread the cedar mulch around them like the rest of the plants. Sad…

    August 17, 2010 at 10:51 pm
  13. Janet

    I love crape myrtles but… planted a Natchez that overhangs my patio dining area and it’s the dritiest, messiest thing ever!!! I need to blow or hose the patio and all furniture daily and it stains like crazy!

    August 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm
  14. Henry H.

    Sprinkling Miracle-Gro around some flowers instead of mixing it in water is not such a good idea. Only killed about 20% of the impatiens I had planted but I can’t laugh anymore when my customers ask if they can do it.
    When I went to replace them the other employees asked if I didn’t get enough to fill in the bed that I planted………Nah, just fillin in some gaps…..shhhhh
    Also, thought it would be a good idea to leave my birdsnest fern outside for a few days a couple weeks back when we were out of town. I thought some fresh air and maybe a rain would do it right. A word of advice—what may be shady at 5pm isn’t necessarily shady at 12pm……

    August 17, 2010 at 5:26 pm
  15. Linda

    Thank you for letting me vent.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm
  16. Linda

    Since I love wisteria, I decided it could grow where it pleased. I was rewarded for years with cascades of purple from my trees and the back fence. The side yard looked like a wedding veil each spring with white wisteria flowing from trees and over a retaining wall. Finally, it occurred to me that one huge hardwood was being slowly killed. The fence was being ruined, and the sideyard of white was just getting plain junky because of all the small volunteer trees I refused to cut for the sake of wisteria.
    I even put up with hoards of bumblebees that were attracted to the wisteria. I could have endured anything for a few brief weeks of the intoxicating aroma and allure of the lovely blossoms.
    I may never get the wisteria under control now. Maybe it will take a complete kill and cleaning out, starting over, to ever get my yard back. However, I am trying.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:03 pm
  17. Pat T

    For about 3 years I couldn’t grow Coneflowers for the life of me. I had ordered some from a mail order nursery that never came up. I purchased some already blooming from a garden center that never came back the next year. Last year I tried again, purchasing from a big box store. Lo and behold, they came back this year. In retrospect, I realized that the leaves and stems of the Coneflower looks very much like a weed to me. I had been pulling them out of the garden. I actually did so again this year but when I pulled it up it came with rounded soil like it had been in a pot. I stuck it back in thinking it was something and sure enough, Coneflower. Don’t judge. I am a relatively new gardener who also yanked a mail order nursery hydranga in weed pulling zeal. I am much more careful now.

    August 17, 2010 at 1:36 pm
  18. Jill in Atlanta

    I did lots of plant swaps in the spring- but the majority were from a woman in Minnesota. Naturally her spring was the start of our summer and by the time she got the plants to me it was hot out here. I baked every last one. I probably killed two dozen plants all in all. If it can’t live through the summer with complete neglect then it won’t ever be invited back to my gardens!

    August 17, 2010 at 9:20 am
  19. Roselawyer

    My husband and I left for a three-day weekend and I forgot to ask my non-gardening son to water my window boxes! AAGH!

    August 17, 2010 at 8:54 am

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