June 4, 2011

Bunches and Bunches

What is wrong with this picture?

It's lovely --- a serene pond, some rocks, a newly planted conifer,  a tall tree and a ground cover of . . .

. . . .  bunches and bunches of bunchberryCornus canadensis, spread wide, spread far, and creeping all over.  Really?

Why am I gasping?  Because in my last post I told you how hard this midget dogwood is to grow.  I planted so many, and have coddled them along, losing most of what I had bought.  I now have about nine plants after four years of effort, slowly and grudgingly growing under a Japanese maple.  They cover a square foot of ground.  They struggle.  They want perfect conditions, a fact some commenters also noted.

Yesterday, at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor, Maine I saw thousands of cornus canadensis plants, all filling in and spreading.  They were everywhere.

They were massing along the parking lots in sandy soil.

They were spreading along a pond, thriving in sun, growing in shade, happily marching along paths and sidewalks and spilling over ledges.

There were swaths, fields, and sweeping arcs of these damn plants.  And they were all in bloom, showing tons of sweet little dogwood petals.

I am carrying on about this because I can't get them to grow for me.  Why are they so prolifically present in Maine?

And here's the kicker: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are brand new.  This garden opened in June of 2007.  All of the plantings and installations are just five years old, exactly the age of my garden.

So it's not like these massive bunches of bunchberry have been establishing themselves over decades.  They weren't a natural stand discovered in the woods either.

They were planted exactly when mine were, and I have nine unhappy, clumpy plants sulking in laboratory conditions of soil and shade.

In the gardens in Maine they have a jillion wildly spreading massing plants growing in scree, sand, wet bog, deep soil, on rock ledges, and in sun.

I give up.  Apparently my gardens are not Maine and my bunchberries know it.

I'm going to try growing lobsters in my toilet tank and see if that helps.


  1. Lobsta in the Potty. ROTGLMAO OMG, Laurrie, that is soooooooo funny. I haven't laughed this hard in way too long! I will never look at a lobster or a toilet the same way. LOL LOL LOL

  2. I had to post about this on my own blog. HILARIOUS!

  3. It would probably be easier to just eat the lobsta and then throw the remains out into the garden for fertilizer. You are a funny girl. I can sense your frustration though. I can see that it was disheartening for you to see this display of grandeur.

  4. Wendy, you are so crazy! I had to look up the whole big acronym, but now I get it. I like the fact that I made you roll on the floor : )

    Too much!

    Lisa, actually, that may be the secret to growing bunchberry: lobster compost. I bet it is. Gotta get a big tank, the toilet won't do.

  5. Hi Laurrie, I used to live in New Brunswick (connected to Maine) and the plant was very prolific there as well. As were wild blueberries. They said the blueberries did so well because of the acidic soil. I wonder if it is the same for the bunchberries? If not, go for the lobster! :)

  6. Garden Ms. S, My soil is naturally on the acid side of neutral, and I have been adding elemental sulphur to the spot where the bunchberries are planted. But it's probably still not as truly acid as Maine soil is.

  7. Hi Laurrie. This is a HILARIOUS post. ROFLOL, best I've read in awhile.
    Hopped over from Wendy's. Bookmarked so I can find you again.
    I have friends in Maine, think that would help. lol

  8. Laurrie, the visual of you googling ROTGLMAO is almost as funny as Lobsta in the Potty. I went to a nursery yesterday in Westerly and chatted with the owner. Your ground cover came up. He said it was heat.... doesn't like the heat and needs COOL soil because it's mesophytic. Maine better replicates the conditions of Russia where this plant goes bonkers and grows like crazy.

  9. Lola, welcome! I'm glad you got a laugh out of this. Your friends in Maine would just roll their eyes I think.

    Wendy, you keep making me look things up! Had to see what mesophytic means. Some of the swaths of bunchberry in Maine were in very dry sites, in sun, but the acid soil and the colder temps must make up for that. This plant really wants very specific conditions I guess. It's fussy but pretty.

  10. Most pretty things are fussy. I've got a 21-year-old who can attest to that. I didn't know what mesophytic meant either but rather than look stupid in front of the nursery guy, I came home and googled it. I think it's temperature. Think of how ridiculously hot our past few summers have been. And you know that just cuz you can see Maine from your window, that zone is nowhere near our 6a or 6b.

  11. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  12. If I were to ever visit you, remind me not to ask to use the powder room:)


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