Friday, June 28, 2013

Removing the Showy Primrose Plantings

While I very much enjoy the showy primrose (Oenothera speciosa), I have removed most of them from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden. I wrote in my 2009 book A Garden of Love,

The showy primrose, with their mass effect of soft pink, are aptly named “showy.” In late spring, the flowers become a carpet of delicate pink with a subtle yellow touch in the center. Slowly, the flowers fade with the heat of the summer, only to reveal brilliant dots of blood-red leaves, as if an artist stroke each individual leaf. By the peak of autumn, the flowers that are left are soft accents to each leaf's variegated red and green effect.

Yet despite my enthusiasm for the rich colors and gorgeous effect of this plant, this spring I repeatedly sprayed Round Up on the three main beds where the showy primrose was located. Only a small portion near the entrance to the garden remains untouched. "Why?" you ask. Because of its invasive nature and its co-habitation with short weeds that are very difficult to remove.

Sitting under this exhilarating collection of buds and flowers was a mass of chickweed, ground ivy, and various other weeds that were very difficult to remove. Before the showy primrose opened or after the color reached its peak, the abundance of these weeds was readily apparent. I decided that they must go as I prepared the garden for a wedding last summer; I spent several hours hand-pulling the yellow-flowered black clover and still did not remove it all.

It took four applications of Round Up over a two-month period to remove the showy primrose. Now the three beds are planted with other flowers: sedum 'Autumn Joy' in one, daylilies in another, and a white-flowering viburnum with Japanese maple in a third.

Warning: do not attempt to simply dig the bed to remove these invasive flowers. You will find that it will be just a waste of time because the root system is so thick. You should be much more satisfied if you use chemicals instead.