We all have favourites. My father used to stop by a display of gaudy clashing Begonias and remark on the lovely splash of colour. In his defence, he was getting older and his eyesight was not as keen as once it was. Although I kept my mouth shut at the time, dollops of carelessly heaped quarrelling shades annoy me. Dad was a huge fan of Araucaria trees, the bigger the better. Ugly lumps of bare trunk topped with a distant scrawny toupee of spiky greenery, monkey puzzles have been around since the days of the dinosaurs. I find them less attractive than a Brachiosaur’s bum; I’m only sorry that they didn’t eat them all and do a better job of seeing them off. Perhaps they didn’t like them either.
Buphthalmum speciosum (ox eye daisy)
I loathe lavender. I’m aware that this is heresy but it is sodding dull. There must be a better reason for nurturing a plant than filling the garden with an aggressive smell of little old ladies. I hate Hebe, it’s more tedious than lavender and it doesn’t even possess any horrible perfume to make it noteworthy. Escallonia is over-rated, being a huge dark green blob of leathery leaves, sparsely pocked with the occasional tiny flower in unattractive shades of surgical appliance. The blossom is supposed to bear a scent of honey but if it does, I’ve never detected it. If you don’t prune savagely, it will grow to apocalyptic proportions and fill your plot with nothing much to boast about. Griselinia (broadleaf) is a shrub that copes with difficult conditions and really does bugger all but exist. If the choice is growing that or nothing, I would go for concrete, every time. You could even consider decking and this is the only time you will ever catch me saying that.
Ipomoea lobata (Spanish flag)
I don’t care for municipal plantings of garish red salvias, white candytuft and blue lobelia, particularly when they are arranged in concentric layers like some hideous target. There will be a poorly looking Canna with a wonky stem in the centre, as the bulls eye of bad taste. Sometimes there will be rancid pink oxalis and/or uncompromising orange marigolds for added eeugh. If you want to get out of here alive, don’t get me started on those. Michaelmas daisy is another on my detest list. When cosseted on decent soil, they are underwhelming in the extreme. When abandoned to sand they become mildewed, unsightly and obnoxious. I am infested with that crappy Campanula, which roots itself everywhere, even in pots to which it has not been invited. If it gets into brick work, it will push out the mortar and eventually destroy the wall. Who needs guests like that?
Eucomis comosa (pineapple lily) ‘Sparkling Burgundy’
Since this is a personal blog, I have given you a round-up of some of my least preferred plants and design schemes. Please don’t give me a pot or packet of mixed shit and expect me to be grateful, unless it actually came from a horse’s arse. I’m prepared to accept that you will have your own dislikes, although if you adore one of the specimens I abhor, I will consider you mistaken and agree to disagree. If you spend your sunny days ministering to the national collection of marigolds, then I don’t want to talk to you any more.