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Into the Garden: Plant Virginia creeper on purpose?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Once again, I got an unexpected package from Proven Winners with plants inside. A co-worker kept them alive until I got to the office, and now I'm doing a bit of investigating before I recommend them to my readers.

One plant, called a "Hide a Fence" plant, is the Virginia creeper Red Wall (Parthenocissus quincefolia 'Troki'). The tag says it's a fast-growing vine excellent for covering fences. "Do not plant near buildings as it is difficult to remove. Plant where it has room to spread and climb."

I battle Virginia creeper in many of my beds and in the woods surrounding my home on a daily basis. I can't imagine planting this plant! Maybe it's not as invasive in another part of the country, but it's not going into my yard!

Another unexpected package held Cool Wave pansies, touted to have double the color of regular pansies. The Cool Wave mix was mainly purple, yellow and white. These spread twice as far as regular pansies and are cold-weather tolerant when planted in the ground. Called "the next generation of spreading pansies," PanAmerican Seed has created this first non-petunia to earn the right to hold the Wave brand name. I'm told it will be the first pansy to return in the spring. I'll be anxious to see how well they overwinter.

I put them in the bed that held marigolds this summer, right outside the breakfast nook.

The recent snowstorms flattened the pansies, but they seem to be springing back up now.

More storm damage

I thought the summer storms were the worst thing to hit my yard in years. I lost 11 large trees (oaks, pines, maples) and it was devastating. But the aftereffects of superstorm Sandy have been heartbreaking.

While the summer storm took down the big stuff, this winter storm damaged all of my favorite small stuff. The dogwoods, redbuds, magnolias, hydrangeas, viburnum, hollies ... the list goes on and on.

I'm pruning off the damaged branches for now, because I'm hoping many of the plants will spring back this spring. A few must be cut to the ground. If they come back next year, it will be a miracle. But a girl can hope!

Reach Sara Busse at sjbusse@gmail.com.


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