Never say never again, in the movies or the garden

Erin Schanen

Sean Connery and I have at least one thing in common, and it’s not an iconic Scottish-English accent or a recurring role in spy movies.

The Edinburgh-born actor and I share a common lesson learned — never say never again.

In Connery’s case, the lesson was allegedly related to his declaration to his wife that he would never play the role of James Bond again after “Diamonds are Forever.” Nine years later he did exactly that and his wife admonished him to “never say never again.” I’ll let you figure out what the name of the movie was.

My “never say never” moment refers to plants. In particular, plants that have wronged me and I’ve sworn off for bad behavior.

At the top of that list is Coreopsis. When I first started my garden, I relied on generous gifts from fellow gardeners with a goal of filling my space as quickly as possible and figuring the rest out later. Plants were plunked in hither and yon, and many did a great job of filling in quickly, which their owners cautioned would happen.

And in the case of Coreopsis, commonly known as tickseed, it did too good of a job filling in. Within a year, a quarter of a large garden space was taken over by new, self-seeded plants and my garden was suddenly a sea of bright yellow flowers.

Looking back, those Coreopsis had a lot going for them — a long blooming period, a heap (literally, as it was quite a floppy plant) of flowers that the deer weren’t interested in and, yes, no soil peeking out around them. But to me, it was just a mess.

Since I also didn’t understand the important of deadheading plants that reseed readily, there were plenty of seeds left to sprout. It took me three years to rid my garden of the plant. I was so traumatized that I swore off not only Coreopsis but all yellow flowers.

I also had a run-in with Artemisia ‘Oriental Limelight,’ a bright, variegated cultivar of mugwort that I thought would be a great foliage accent. It took over so quickly that it went from accent to garden dominator in the course of a season. That, too, got the hook, although five years after I thought I had eradicated it, I found it popping up near some rhubarb.

I even swore off roses for a time after too many of them broke my heart by underperforming and just being too needy. I ate those words a year later when a catalog of David Austin English roses landed in my mailbox in the middle of winter.

Three years ago, I was sent a sample of a new Artemisia introduction called 'Makana Silver' and fell head over heels in love with its feathery gray foliage that is somewhat similar to the more common ‘Silver Mound.’

And this year, a new garden plan incorporates a shiny bit of yellow in the form of Coreopsis verticillata ‘Golden Showers.’ More than 15 years after I shunned the plant, this new form is one of many greatly improved varieties that will be better behaved.

My relationship with Coreopsis, it appears, has come full circle. And I’ll never say never again.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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