Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ABC Wednesday: Utterly Ordinary Plants

This week we have come to the letter U, which is for Ubiquitous . . .

. . . as in the Ubiquitous Stella d'Oro daylily.

Stellas can be seen everywhere these days in commericial plantings, from the curb in front of a business to even the drive-through at the local McDonald's. As a result, many gardeners refuse to plant these lovely lilies. It's too bad, really, because I love these plants! In fact, I even wrote a poem about them in a post last summer. They are easy to grow, bloom all summer, and provide an attractive green foliage when they're not blooming.

The problem with them in commercial landscaping that I can see is that they are often planted by themselves or are not taken care of properly. Sometimes you will see mass plantings of these lilies, but they look best when used as a border in front of other taller plants or interspersed in a variety of plants. It's easy to see why businesses might plant so many of these, because they are so easy to maintain. But they do need to be divided every few years; otherwise they become straggly and less attractive. My Stellas will be dug up next spring and divided, to be shared with the daughters-in-law.

Another plant that is becoming ubiquitous as well is the Knockout Rose. This is also understandable--this rose is so easy to grow! I had no intention of growing roses when I first started gardening several years ago, but my daughters gave me two of these as a birthday gift that year. I was appreciative and found room in the flowerbed for them, but I was very doubtful I could keep them alive. Five years later these beauties are still going strong, surviving sub-zero Illinois winters, drought, yearly attacks by voracious Japanese beetles, and two clumsy transplantings. They don't need special rose food, cones during the winter, or careful pruning. While their flowers are not as spectacular or fragrant as the hybrid tea roses, they're the perfect rose for a non-fussy gardener like me.

And who doesn't recognize the common geranium? Several years ago I was reading an article about container planting in which the writer expressed his disdain for the ubiquitous geraniums and vinca vines stuck in pots. Mea culpa. I've since learned a lot about container planting and experiment each year with new varieties of plants and new combinations. But there will always be room somewhere for these tried-and-true beauties.

There is a reason these plants are seen everywhere. They all provide long-lasting blooms with a minimum of fuss. Another ubiquitous flower I've omitted is the petunia; other than the wave petunias, though, I don't plant these anymore. But the three I've listed here are flowers that will always be seen in my garden, even if they are "ordinary."

The saguaro cactus is a plant not seen outside of the Sonoran Desert area but is certainly ubiquitous in Arizona, which is where I've been for the past week. I've had little time for blogging while here (most of this post was written quickly before I left), but I've taken lots of pictures and will have much to share with you when I return. And I hope to catch up with everyone's posts this weekend.

ABC Wednesdays are brought to you by Mrs. Nesbitt's Place and the ABC Anthology.


  1. Ubiquitous plants...... the mainstay of the garden. Lovely idea and great pictures. Loved them all. Brightened up my winter's day!

  2. I totally agree with you. The Stella in the right setting and with just a little care is a beautiful plant. her blooma last all summer and her yellow color brightens up anyone's day. I have always loved your knockout roses and am tempted to get some for here. My hybrids have not done well for 2 years now and I am tired of messing with them. I lve the color of the geraniun. So much prettier than those orange ones. A little deadheading and these will bloom repeatledly. Petunias? Alwyas and forever in my gardens!

    What a wonderful word for 'U'. Bet you;ve been waithing a while to use it!

    See you soon!

  3. Daylilies! I love them too. I have one here but am yet to see them flower. Geraniums are beautiful too, sad that it's become ubiquitous and people have started abandoning it there. Cool post

  4. Hi Rose, you have done a service to the common plants sometimes overused. In my experiece, Stella needs dividing every year to bloom well, something of a pain compared to the other daylilies, but the bloom period is so long and the color welcome, a good choice, really. I am all for the Knockouts too. Not needing the spraying and relentless blooms make this a must have for every garden. Who cares if they are planted at every gas station? HA. I would not be without at least a few.

  5. So good to hear from you while you are away Rose. I know you are having a wonderful time. I can't wait to see/read about your trip when you return.

  6. Rose .. this is one very thoughtful post on plants that shouldn't be sneered at ! .. I too have most of what you have written about because they are great plants .. low maintenance is a help to me .. and they look so nice too !
    You have stood up for the rights girl .. great job Rose ! : )
    PS .. I have seen much better landscaping in Kingston with more of the native or low water type plants .. but they also could do a better job with upkeep as well.

  7. Even though the stella's get such bad press about being so ubiquitous, I wouldn't mind having a few of those or the knock outs! I do always have a couple geraniums and can't do without some wave petunias either.

  8. I have alwasy liked this word and you have certainly made good use of it with a fabulous write up and beautiful images.

  9. I'm with you Rose, I didn't plant on having roses in my garden either but I couldn't resist the "easiness" of Knock-outs either. I bought 3 last year and they have performed wonderfully. This summer I brought home a pink one that was headed for the dumpster at work. So far, it has done good. And it just so happens, yesterday I rescued another pink one. You can't go wrong with these plants.

    I know you are having a wonderful visit. Have a safe trip home!

  10. Hi Rose! Oh to be among the ubiquitous cacti of AZ!
    What an adventure you must be having!

    I have one Stella, no geraniums or knockout roses....not because I spurn them, just that I favor native plants! You know The Susans take up a lot of sunny real estate! I do have a few spots that I might add the Knockouts, too...I really like the pink flowers and long bloom would help dress up my Mosaic Shed garden!

    Take care! Gail

  11. Color my simple, but I like ALL the ubiquitous plants. For the very same reasons you say! I remember your Stella post last summer. It is great to have some history!

  12. Hi Rose.....I love the Stella.....I was not familiar with this particular plant until you and Beckie showed them on your blog this summer.....I think they are lovely, I like the colour.......
    I grow few roses here as you know....due to rabbits......I love my miniatures and wild roses......

    As for the geranium the colour is beautiful and would fit into my garden perfectly........

    I am with you on petunia's.....I really do not like them.....perhaps because they never seem to do very well....even in pots.......and I hate that sticky feel they sometimes get.....

    Look forward to hearing about your time away.........welcome home......

  13. I am a great fan of all of your ubiquitous plants. I have some day lilies, because they will tolerate my clay soil and I can't resist geraniums! The only rose I have ever planted is rosa rugosa as it tends to be trouble free. Otherwise I would have to spray against black spot and I'm not keen on spraying. I do like all roses, of course and also petunias.

  14. Allyour ubiquitous plants are lovely, but I also think that you are an excellent gardener.

  15. Rose - ubiquitous, what an inventive solution to the problem of U!

    I do hope you're enjoying your trip and I'm looking forward to hearing about your travels when you get back :)

  16. Wow! such gorgeous photos of these ubiquitous plants!

  17. Beautiful flowers becoming mundane is a little sad. I enjoyed reading your thoughts, viewing your great photos and for the cactus. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Those plants may be ubiquitous, but as somebody once said, there are no banal plants, only banal uses of plants. It sounds like you've solved that problem, so keep right on enjoying them. (As you may recall, over the summer I ranted about Stella abuse in commercial plantings.)

  19. Hi Rose, The knockout rose is just one of those plants that gives back even when we can't give much to it! I need to get a bunch of them next year, the one pictured on your blog is gorgeous. And the purple geranium--beautiful. I'd like to get one like that, too. I have a burgundy one and one that's white/burgundy--so purple shall be my next one! I cannot wait to have Austin weather here...this winter in VA isn't too bad so far, but it's dreery and drab outside and I am sooo missing the sun. Take care. Jan/ThanksFor2Day

  20. Who says ubiquity is a bad thing? Even my non-gardener husband can now identify a Knockout rose when he sees one. For some reason, the Stellas I planted here in FL have not done well like they did for me in IL years ago. They really seem to prefer that sticky clay. I thought you were already home when I answered your comment yesterday. Have a safe trip, Rose!

  21. Hey Rose, great post. I agree with you completely. I love Stella and Knockout too. The landscaper's mass plantings have just become so boring. For a while mass planting were the 'thing'. Martha Stewart called them 'waves' of color. More like waves of boring. But stick Stella in among the May Night or agastache and she is lovely for months. Another thing, Stella and Knockout don't require chemical intervention like so many more unique collector plants.

  22. How was your Arizona Trip? The photo you chose of the Saguaro is beautiful, as are your flower photos. I've seen Knockout Rose advertised, and now I know why it is so popular! It sounds like it's as carefree as some cacti!

  23. Looking forward to having you back :) Hope you've had a great time. That desert landscape is something else !

  24. What Marnie said! I love my Knockout (if for no other reason than that the Japanese beetles don't), and I have stellas and geraniums throughout the garden. I can't wait to hear about your Arizona trip--we leave in one week and I can't wait.

  25. U for ubiquitous - very clever Rose!

    I figure these plants are so common because they are so GREAT! I love the stella d'oro daylilies very much :)


  26. Maggie May, It is nice to see some summer blooms on these dreary winter days, isn't it?

    Beckie, You know I love tea roses, but I just don't have the patience to care for them properly. And I was so sad to lose the beautiful one you and S gave me last year.

    Chandramouli, Wait till your daylilies bloom--they are beautiful!

    Frances, Wow, I didn't know you should divide the daylilies every year. Mine haven't been divided in at least 3 years and really need it this spring.

    Lisa, I have enough pictures for a month's worth of posts:)

    Joy, I'm all for any plant that is low-maintenance, too:) Our town has plantings done by volunteers, a local gardening group, and their plantings are gorgeous.

    Cindy, These are all great plants, which is why they're so popular, of course:)

    Babooshka, Thanks; I don't know why, but "ubiquitous" is one of my favorite words, too.

    Susie, Pink knockouts--hmmm, I'd better add that to my wish list:) I wish they'd come up with a yellow variety, though, too.

    Gail, Just arrived home from AZ--I'm going through culture (weather) shock:) It's nice to see real trees, though. If you have room for a rose bush, I'd really recommend a Knockout--maybe after the arborists finish their work?

    Tina, I'm with you. I tend to plant things that have been around for awhile and have demonstrated they can survive without much tending.

    Cheryl, I don't care as much for the single petunias anymore either, but I think our choices are determined in large part by what does well in our own gardens. Just got home tonight; had a wonderful time, but am very tired...

  27. Mean Mom, The Knockouts are good, too, because they seem to be disease-resistant. The Japanese beetles attack them every summer, but they always come back looking as good as ever. But I don't think you have Japanese beetles in the UK, do you?

    Reader Wil, You are very kind...I have much to learn about gardening, but am enjoying learning through trial and error.

    VP, I couldn't think of a plant I had that started with U, so like you, an adjective came to mind:) I have lots to share from my trip as soon as I get all my photos organized.

    Leslie, Thanks! Sorry I didn't get to visit many ABC posts this week or last--I've had little blogging time.

    Nonizamoni, I think a lot of us don't care if they're mundane or not and plant them anyway:)

    Richies, Thanks for stopping by.

    MMD, That's a great way of looking at it! I remember your post, and I always meant to do something along the same lines featuring the plantings in our town. They're done by a local group of gardening volunteers and show how a little planning and imagination can create some spots of beauty.

  28. Hello Rose - good solid plant citizens for U! I had lots of Stellas in IL and liked them mixed in the borders.But Knockouts are new since we're in TX, and there are other interesting roses like 'Mutabilis' that grow in this zone so I don't need Knockout.

    Guess Shasta Daisies are an ordinary plant that could be my U for ubiquitous - grew them in at least 4 gardens...maybe 5.

    Nice post!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  29. Jan, I like plants, too, that "give back" even when I've neglected them. It's pretty gray here in Illinois this morning, too; I miss the Arizona sun!

    W2W, In Arizona, the bouganvillea were "ubiquitous," and I thought they were beautiful, but I know I couldn't grow them here.

    Marnie, I didn't realize Martha was partly responsible for the "waves" of color idea. I'm with you--I like some variety.

    Aiyana, My trip was wonderful--I enjoyed the warm Phoenix weather, the sun, and seeing so many different species of plants. The bougainvillea seemed to be as common as Knockout roses here--they are gorgeous!

    Suburbia, I'm glad to be back, although I'll take the sun and warm temps any day over the gray skies here! You'll be seeing a lot of that desert landscape in future posts:)

    Cosmo, The beetles do attack my roses, but they always bounce right back. Have fun in Arizona!

    Amy, You're absolutely right--if they weren't such great plants you wouldn't see them planted everywhere.

    Annie, Your Mutabilis is so lovely; you don't need a Knockout. Daisies are supposed to be great plants, but I've never had much luck with them for some reason, although I had my first successful one this year.


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