Gardening Mistakes in the News

by Colin B
(Yorkshire, UK)

Russian Vine the Ultimate Garden Thug!

Russian Vine the Ultimate Garden Thug!

How refreshing to read the recent gardening news article from ‘The Sunday Times’ which asked several well known gardeners to spill the beans about last season’s gardening mistakes.

Why refreshing? Well it certainly makes us mere mortals feel a whole lot better to know that even the experts aren’t infallible, and, what’s more, that they are modest enough to freely admit to their mistakes!

The article prompted me to think about the gardening mistakes I’ve made over the years – and there are certainly plenty to choose from! The worst one of all, and one that still makes me wince when I think about it, was to follow some advice from a friend to plant a Russian Vine to disguise a stretch of fencing and an ugly shed at the bottom of the garden.

I duly trotted off to the local garden centre, found a potted Russian Vine and took it to the only visible member of staff; a teenage boy at the checkout.

Once home I planted it and watched with satisfaction as it grew…and grew….and GREW! Experienced gardeners will of course realise that the satisfaction was swiftly followed by dismay. I mean you can actually see and hear this thing growing – it is the ‘Incredible Hulk’ of the plant world.

In one way the Russian Vine could be counted a success – it certainly disguised the fence and screened the shed. The problem was that it just didn’t stop there. It climbed a silver birch tree, killing it in the process, then formed a sort of bridge from there on to a nearby maple, and from there on to the roof of the house where it enveloped the gutters and invaded the roof space, lifting the slates in the process!

As if this wasn’t bad enough, it eventually destroyed the original fence, and escaped into my neighbour’s garden, apparently re-rooting itself at will. Needless to say my neighbour wasn’t happy and so began a long campaign (and I use the word advisedly) of eradication.

In the course of this campaign my wife and I have been forced to cast all our ‘green’ credentials to the wind and employ an arsenal of chemicals which we had sworn to do without. I’m pleased to report that, finally, several years down the line, we can see the light (literally) at the end of the tunnel and the balance of power has shifted in our favour.

So what wisdom can be distilled from this sorry tale? What was the original mistake? And what did I learn from it? Two things spring to mind:

Firstly, choose your friends carefully and, in case the vetting process hasn’t been thorough enough, take anything they say with a hefty pinch of salt.

Secondly, and the real pearl of wisdom here, is to always take the time to do a little bit of research before planting anything in your own garden. This includes going to a reputable garden centre or nursery and asking questions about whether a particular plant is suitable for the purpose you have in mind. A few pertinent questions and bit of time spent online or in the local library would have saved me, my wife AND my long suffering neighbour from several seasons of misery.

So there you have it – reading that original news story has prompted me to come clean about my biggest gardening mistake, and I hope that my experience will serve to help others. After all, why make your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else’s?

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Excellent contribution
by: Deirdre from

Thank you so much for this excellent and useful contribution! There's no doubt that 'learning from our mistakes' is part and parcel of gardening. I've certainly made lots of mistakes over the years and your story has prompted me to think that a 'Gardening Mistakes' section might be a useful addition to this site. I could start the ball rolling with some of the most useful lessons I've learnt along the way and then perhaps other visitors could 'come clean' and confess - all in the spirit of helping the community of course!

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