Gardener recounts some of her mistakes from past year

It is time for the column a number of people have told me is their favorite of the year: a list of the worst mistakes I have made lately.

So here, in no particular order, just as I think of them, are the 2013 winners. Or losers.

Definitely first on the list has to be the fact I let the New Dawn Rose on the front of the house grow too big. For about two weeks in June, it was a beautiful sight, reaching all the way across the width of the house and partly covering the second-floor window, filled with pale pink lightly scented roses.

The rest of the summer it looked quite nice, but for one thing, it was kept in place by some odd pieces of wire, string and nails, and for another, it had become a bird sanctuary, which is another name for a bird toilet.

So, it had to be severely pruned. Tom and I hacked away at it, then hauled three truckloads of thorny branches to the city facility. Now, of course, the front of the house needs a good pressure-washing.

Next is the fact, sometime in the past, I actually bought and planted lemon balm. It has taken root and spread for yards on every side of the herb garden and is just about impossible to eliminate. Invasive is too mild a word for this wonderfully scented menace.

Then, there are the green beans. Every year, I plant way too many, and this year, I chose to go to England at absolutely the wrong time because the harvest was ready then.

When I got home, I picked bushels of very large pods and tried to shave the stringy bits and slice them with my new bean slicer, brought back from England. But it was too little, too late and, every so often while eating a bean casserole, one will discover something that tastes and feels like a mouthful of straw.

I grew a container full of lovely caladiums this year, and when frost threatened, I dug up the corms and put them in the appropriate mesh bag for winter storage. The only thing I did wrong was to leave the bagful on the ground behind the empty container, where they froze and thawed several times before I discovered them. It had turned to a bag of mush.

A carryover from the past few years is the hop vine. And I say is, not was.

I grew these hops up a string on the corner of the house, and they took over the buddleias and started up the arbor vitae with great abandon. I cut them down and dug out as many roots as I could find, and they thrived on that treatment.

Now, every year those pretty pale green leaves pop up in an ever wider area and need constant cutting down. I can’t dig too energetically around the buddleia because two of them blew over in a storm this summer, and though they survived, replanting in apparent good health, I have to be careful.

I am sure I could list many other bloopers, but one I must mention is that I come across sometimes as a know-it-all. I realized this recently when a friend was reluctant to correct me on a point regarding roses.

Of course, he was correct.

I am certainly not an expert in any aspect of gardening, worse in some than others, and what I write is either something I have experienced or something I have read or heard about.

As the examples above show, I still have a lot to learn, so please never hesitate to disagree with me and to show me a better way.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at