Curing the Gardening Phobia

“Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste”*

The Sentimental Gardener

I’m not a sentimental gardener…that is, I don’t let every cute little thing grow just to see whether it might have a flower.

Don’t get me wrong…I once tried the “wildflower mix”…but all the little spindly things looked no different from weeds. I didn’t know how to weed the patch and ended up ripping it all out. But in that spot, I still hesitate over some seedlings…thinking they might be leftovers and maybe I should let them grow. Continue reading ““Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste”*”

bee balm and black-eyed susans
Curing the Gardening Phobia

If a Common Man Screams in the Woods…

So…we live in the age of the common man…and each one of us has a story. Witness the millions of bloggers in cyberspace…including me. Why should anyone be interested in their neighbor’s story?

I got a brusque reminder of this startling reality, when I perkily marched up to my neighbor to tell him with great glee about the oak tree we have growing between our two houses. Continue reading “If a Common Man Screams in the Woods…”

Curing the Gardening Phobia

Problems with Apps’ Plant ID

A couple of days ago, I was pretty disgusted trying to get plant identifications from the 2 apps I downloaded. I was eager to try them both and then select one. As of today, I was planning to recommend 1 of them, but am now hesitating.

burry sticky
Burry sticky thing

In my last post—A Weed by Any Other Name—I resorted to calling one of the weeds a “burry sticky thing.” I had no choice because iplant identified it differently 3 times: “birch,” “greenhouses,” and “animal husbandry”! I have no words to match my frustration….and no name either….

I was curious and gave the app a secret test. I said nothing to it…but took a picture of what I am positive is a native Illinois woodland violet, and iplant came back with ‘peppermint.’ Ha! Gotcha! Now…I realize that the toothed leaf edges could be similar to peppermint, but iplant’s track record with the burry sticky things had me suspicious…

My experience with SmartPlant was a little better…until today. I’ll back up….

My precious little “winterberry” that seemed miraculously saved after our heavy construction and tree removal equipment came through, I now wanted to test. Was that its real name?

I wondered because Kenny the Landscaper hesitated when he saw it. “What did you call it?” he asked.

“Winterberry,” I said with neophyte confidence.

“Hmmm,” he mused and cocked his head.

I recalled instantly that a horticulturalist friend once said to me that there were so many cultivars—cross-bred plants—that it is nearly impossible to know every plant available. She admitted that even nurseries can make mistakes.

Now armed with new technology, I hoped to find the real name. I submitted the picture below to SmartPlant, which came back later that night with a response: Creeping Dogwood. That made sense! The leaves look like dogwood, and the description almost matches my experience: white flowers in the spring—yes, I’ve seen those. Red berries in the winter—huh? I’ve never seen any. But then I never went out to look. (By the way, iplant identified it as wood sorrel. It’s at 0 and 4.)

At that point, I googled “winterberry” and can see why Kenny was confused. It looks nothing like Creeping Dogwood. But if my little hero plant does get red berries in the winter, perhaps that’s how the nursery made the error.

I wanted SmartPlant to take some credit for this Eureka moment. I signed up for the Premium…too naïve….too soon.

When I tap on “Profile” to set mine up, it kicks me out of the app. And for the past 60 minutes, while I worked on this post, it has been whirring around unable to confirm my password.

So…I have no app recommendations to offer….

But I have confidence in two names: Creeping Dogwood, and Burry Sticky Thing.

Learn more about wood sorrel here: