Should it Stay or Should it Go?

It's hard to imagine just by looking at the picture
 that this garden area in winter 
is a beautiful place in the summer and fall.

In mid-summer, this same area is filled with flowers,
insects, birds, and other wildlife.

In the fall, the garden is filled with beautiful shades 
of golds, oranges, yellows and greens

Early March is hard on a mountain gardener like myself. The weather is usually teasing me with its 50 to 60 degree days, lots of clear blue skies and warming sunshine. The snow melts, the ground looks nice and moist, and sometimes even a few plants show some new signs of life. March is that time of year when I look at the gardens and think about how to make them better. Not only from a design standpoint, but from a wildlife, ecological and sustainable standpoint as well. As I look at the various areas and plants in the gardens, I ask myself the question "Should it stay or should it go?"

All of the Vinca in this area under the deck will be removed 
this spring. The soil will be enriched with compost and manure, 
and the area replanted with a few herbs for my 
Dragonfly Dew botanicals and blends.

I have a hard time getting rid of plants, even those that might not be doing all that well in their current locations. Unless it's dead, a plant living in my gardens usually gets a year or two to try and improve its performance before it's given a one-way ticket to the compost heap.  Sometimes I try a new location in the yard or occasionally I'll divide the plant to see if the poor thing needs rejuvenating.  I know that to most people they're "just plants", but I feel a sense of guilt if I don't at least try a few things first before uprooting them from their home.

This is another area that will get re-worked in the spring.
It's filled with Lavender, Agastaches, Lilies, Russian Sage,
Ribbon Grass and a few other things.  Most of it will stay,  
but the "Wine & Roses"Weigela is definitely out of here 
as well as the Ribbon Grass.

In the summer this same garden is filled with color 
and hummingbirds and requires almost no supplemental watering.

So how can you make it easier on yourself when deciding what to ditch and what to keep?  Some of the things to think about include:

  • Does the plant still do what you want it to do in terms of color, form and texture, growing requirements and ecosystem benefits?
  • Does the plant require too much upkeep in exchange for looking pretty?
  • Could you replace the plant with a native that has the same form, color or texture?
  • If you redo an area, what will you do with the plants that you remove?  Can they be used somewhere else in your yard, or given away to another gardener?  If they're invasive just get rid of them!
  • What types of wildlife do you want to attract to your yard?  Considering this before buying new plants will help you attract what you want. Visit us at Wildlife Garden where we have hundreds of posts with information to help you make informed choices.
Now that I've shown you some examples and given you some ideas, start thinking about what should stay and what should go in your nature loving gardens!


  1. Hope you get all that vinca, it would love the new soil enrichment. A herb garden sounds nice in that spot!

  2. It is also my predicament in our area here, but because most of our plants stay perennial if you will not remove them, they will grow on and on. We dont have your winter which obliges removing plants when they die. So in our case we ended up with a lot of plants, which i just call a biodiversity garden, haha!

  3. Dear Kathy, I agree with Randy in thinking it a great idea to remove the Vinca and plant herbs. Bees and butterflies will love it too. I think there will be more blooms than the Vinca gives. Spring is such a healing invigorating time for us . . . though mine is long off . . . still so much snow. I love seeing your seasonal photos. Your summer gardens are lovely. I so wish the Bishops weed I inherited would go!

  4. Enjoyable post. I can relate to that same feeling in the spring. I get antsy but I know we could still get more snow. I started tearing up some walls in the garden last week and haven't been out there to the mess for a while.

  5. Link within is OK, the internet is slow because everyone is watching Japan ... My blog problems are getting sorted. But I see lots of people currently battling to load photos on their blogs.

  6. Yeah I can also relate to your post Kathy. When I was in New Zealand, winter can make the surroundings very dull. Come spring, those flowers. Oh how wonderful. That's why, spring is my favorite season. Thanks for posting the pics. I like it!

  7. How do you intend to get rid of your vinca? I've been wanting to do the same, but it's covering a largish area, not so easily done!

  8. Update to this post: The vinca is now gone - I hand pulled all of it to make sure no little pieces of roots remained. Next step is too add new top dressing of compost and manure. At the end of April/beginning of May I will start planting the herbs. Some from seedlings I have started, some straight seeded into the garden. I'll post pictures when the herbs are growing!

  9. thanks for your best good looking your garden site. I am from kathmandu,Nepal . name is laxmi prasad shahi thanks again for your best site.

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    laxmi prasad shahi


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