Sometimes though, I’m tempted to sneak the gift back into the givers bag when they are not looking, like the cute plastic signs from Christmas Tree Shops that say something quaint like, “Our Happy Wholesome Homegrown Who Cares Home.” I know my Great Aunt Nellie is giving with all the love in her heart, so I smile and graciously accept while thinking of ways to repurpose the very thing I disavow, crappy plastic tchotchkes.
I want to warn you though. There are some gifts you should actually refuse. Often these gifts seem like the best ones. They smell good, taste good, and it seems like it could really work out long term.
A fellow Master Gardener once brought me a jug of fresh mint tea accompanied by a clump of chocolate mint to plant in my garden. The tea was delish and I happily found a sunny spot in the garden atop my small hügelkultur bed, where the fragrant herb could spread as a ground cover and keep the weeds at bay. It grew and I let it spread, as I often do with my plants, letting them drop their seeds and slink their roots around the garden as they want. This was good for a few years, but this year I’m starting to notice it might be time to take a bit more control over who sleeps with who in my garden, if you know what I mean.
The Echinops Ritro muscles its way through, multiplying and growing massively while pushing the timid Meadow Rue out of view. The tall silent Balloon Flowers suddenly have 3-foot tall off-spring interspersed among every species. The Bellflower reseeds itself in a new area each year so I never know whose bed I’ll find it in. We won’t even mention the way the Black-Eyed Susan’s get around, except that nothing is safe, nowhere. The raspberries – need I say more? Milkweed has decided it’s a regular garden plant and I find it sneaking in everywhere. Even the Cranesbill Geranium, who was shy at first, is getting around. Everyone wants a piece of the soil.
This is the one – the specimen that will make me rethink who I plant where in the future. Just because it seems dreamy doesn’t mean it should get VIP seats to the all-you-can-eat buffet. Hell no. Those ones, the real resilient types, they can take the back row from now on because clearly, they will thrive anywhere and don’t need special treatment.
I have a massive mound of Chocolate Mint laying in my fire pit and still my little hügelkultur bed is smothered in it. So, as a friend, I’m saying, please come take some of my Chocolate Mint. But after enjoying it in watermelon salad, DON’T let it fool you into gaining nutrient-rich real estate in your garden. At best it deserves a high walled container or a sand pit on the far end of your yard.