Garden Update: Anyone for spaghetti?

Those of you that know me will know I like things nice and tidy. . . .

Oh excuse me a minute, I think I can hear The Traveller choking on something.. . .. .

He’s OK, but I had better clarify. I like the garden nice and tidy, but unfortunately it doesn’t really extend to the house. Well , I never claimed to be perfect.

Ever since I wrote a post about the bed at the side of the rockery I have been wondering what I should do about it. Clearly, though nice and green,  it was getting in a bit of a mess and your comments indicated that I ought to do something about it before it got worse.

Ground cover at side of rockery

Ground cover at side of rockery

So the other day I decided to try to tidy it up a bit.  The vinca was easily sorted as you could cut the tangled stems and pull up the roots without difficulty. I decided just to leave a few bits that could hang down over the wall.  Similarly the wild strawberries at the bottom of the slope were easily removed.  I hope to replace these at some point with a proper Alpine strawberry which is supposed to be less rampant.

But then I needed to do something about the Houttuynia. I first started digging around the hebe which was being invaded.  As I dug I realised the huge problem that I had.  Hidden under the ground was an immense tangle of white roots.  I think I have just saved my whole rockery from an imminent takeover. The roots were spreading under existing shrubs and were even going under the steps soon to appear on the other side.

Houttuynia roots

Houttuynia roots

So I dug,  and I dug and I dug. It took me the best part of three afternoons. And I am not at all convinced that I have got all the roots. Plants like these really ought to come with a health warning! “WARNING – this plant is likely to seriously damage your back”.

I did relent though and planted some of the Houttuynia back in pots under the Photinia Red Robin. It was probably rather a silly move as those roots are more than capable of finding their way out the holes at the bottom of the pots.  I shall have to keep my eye on them.

Houttunyia under Photinia

Houttunyia under Photinia

It had taken a lot of work,  but the good thing was that I now had some empty space. And I had some plants needing homes. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

You may remember back in August I was given a present of a wonderful Ceratostigma.  I now had just the spot where it could tumble down a sunny slope.



I am hoping it will thrive and look like this specimen we photographed in France recently.

Leadwort in France

Ceratostigma seen in France

I had also recently bought a couple of grasses from the bargain bench at the garden centre.  These will look great at the top of the slope where they will catch the wind and show off their wonderful foxtail flowers.

Pennisetum Rubrum

Pennisetum Rubrum

The label called them Pennisetum hybrid and also had a sticky label on it with the name ‘Metallicum Rubrum’.  Pennisetum Rubrum is not  totally hardy and yet the label says the plant is a ‘hardy clump forming perennial’, so time will tell whether they survive the winter here.  However, I am already enjoying watching them blowing in the wind.

I then filled quite a large area, just above the Ceratostigma,  with Allium Christophii bulbs. I have never grown alliums before, but the producers of these bulbs just knew they had a ready market in all gardeners with sons called Christopher!

My rockery is now looking a little bare for the moment, but it is certainly a lot tidier and I am sure that at least the hebe will be grateful for less competition.  Now what can I put in the remaining space at the bottom. . . . .

Tidied rockery

Tidied rockery




17 thoughts on “Garden Update: Anyone for spaghetti?

    • They are probably loving it as it is actually very pretty. Hope it hasn’t gone on a similar rampage to mine though. I, too, am feeling guilty as I gave some of mine away to a friend before I knew of its prolific behaviour. Hmmm – haven’t heard from her for a while.

  1. Yikes! I think you did the right thing. I’ve heard many a horror story about rampant houttuynia and I think you will probably still have a few sprouts rear their heads come springtime. I wish I could follow your example on a few patches of campanula I have spreading around here!

    • Oh don’t get me started on campanula! I had a similar experience with that too, but I ended up replacing the soil and then sifting thought it all before using it elsewhere. I think in that case I did win as I haven’t seen any shoots coming up in random places. I think I would recommend weedkiller – the type that goes for the roots!

    • Yes, I did feel a bit bad pulling it all out – that is why I kept some of it in pots. I have probably left enough roots in the ground too for it to get going again, but I won’t ever let it get so bad again or it will strangle everything else.

  2. I do sympathise, I small planting error can hours of back-breaking work! I’m still battling with maritime pea and I’m about to tackle and mint and spearmint which is rampaging through the herb garden.

  3. I think planting Houttuynia is a mistake many gardeners make. I know I did in my old garden. I did finally eradicate it though. Mind you, I’ve never been back since I left, so you never know!
    The rockery looks ever so tidy now. I’ve got all my bulbs in except some dutch Iris, I just can’t decide where to put them.
    Love your species Tulip – I have them in the garden too. They are ever so cheery. Unlike hybrid tulips, these should come back every year.

    • I’m not surprised many gardeners get caught out with Houttuynia as it is so pretty and looks like good ground cover. Well done you on the bulbs. I still have some daffs to put in – I got carried away with a 3 for 2 offer in B and Q and now have loads of small Jetfire bulbs to plant. I may put them in some of the new rockery space.

  4. Perhaps your rockery is looking a little bare at the moment Annette, but I am sure it will benefit from the clear out. Ceratostigma, survived, but struggled to bloom in our Aberdeen garden, mind you we were in a severe frost pocket. (Always good to catch up with someone from home.)

    • Hi Alistair. Good to hear from you. I know Ceratostigma was a risk but hopefully it will survive and do well. I just hope it will be protected from the cold winds by the shrubs above it on the slope.

  5. Terrible stuff. I’ m always surprised when I see it for sale because given half a chance it will take over your garden. Vinca is the invention of the devil too. I have spent all summer digging it out of my daughter’ s garden.

    • I never realised what it was like. I grew it before under a big tree and it survived a few years and then almost died out. I guess it wasn’t very happy there. It has taken quite a few years to really spread in my rockery, but golly it certainly did in the end. I didn’t find the vinca too bad, but I have probably kept on top of it a bit more.

  6. Pingback: End of Month View: September | My Aberdeen Garden

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