Winter on the prairies is long and cold and the season has a crazy effect on our shopping choices in the spring, especially when it comes to plants. In the spring, we crash into the greenhouses like the Americans on Black Friday and buy pretty much every plant in site to satiate our need to see life again in the garden. But beware there is evil lurking on those tables. How many of us have burst through our front doors proudly clutching our little bundles of joy only to be horrified by the behemoths they grow to be, or worse, sometimes they are innocently gifted to us.
There are so many stories I could share about Goutweed (Snow on the Mountain). I was hired to come in and get rid of goutweed at a client’s yard and asked why on Earth she put it in to begin with. Her friend had given it to her when she first started gardening. She went back to ask why and he said that the plant blew his mind. Within one season it filled the bed. By the next year it was growing in the grass, and even growing through the patio pavers. The plant was completely indestructible and he thought it would boost her confidence. Goutweed is nasty, and can only be used when it is hemmed in by concrete. It will eat chemical spray for breakfast.
For the most part shrubs are pretty good and are safe bets. There is only one to truly stay away from, French lilacs. There are many very good varieties like the Korean or Preston lilacs, but the French lilac suckers at an eye popping rate. Suckers are little baby lilacs that spring out of the root system and they can number in the hundreds. Stunning flowers but not worth the enormous amount of work digging or cutting back the shoots.
The biggest nuisance is probably the most popular tree in the Edmonton area and that is Shubert Chokecherry. Luxurious deep purple leaves on a nice reasonable small fast growing tree. But unbelievably susceptible to black knot. They look like big black sausages on the end of the stem. Once the knot gets into the trunk the tree is done for. Unfortunately, Maydays are equally susceptible and are being removed at an alarming rate.