This was a garden oops.
For years I tried to grow Cornus canadensis, or bunchberry. It is a pretty groundcover that is a type of dogwood, and looks like a dogwood tree but in miniature. It has leaves that look like a flowering dogwood, and tiny white flowers that resemble it too, as it grows along the forest floor.
But it is tricky. While it grows in huge natural swaths in the wild, it is fussy about acidity and shade and it needs the rich decomposing duff of a woodland floor. I couldn't grow it. Most of my plants turned purple from stress and crisped into tiny wooden skeletons. I planted more and they died.
I moved them to a shadier spot. I added acid fertilizer. I added elemental sulphur to further acidify the soil.
I stuck twigs from pruned shrubs into the soil around the plants, to mimic the rotting woody conditions they like (I read about doing that, I didn't make it up.) But that was an oops when the bunchberry still died and the twig prunings sprouted and began to grow into the spireas and azaleas they came from.
So I gave up two years ago. The struggling patch under a maple tree was forgotten, I put a ton of mulch over the dead bodies of the little plants and buried them. Gone. I didn't even have to look at their dessicated skeletons any more.
Two years after completely burying the plants, I have a patch of bunchberry.
And now it is blooming. And spreading. I see little bunchberry leaves coming up a few feet away.
The mistake here was treating these plants like fussy specimens. All they wanted was to live the way they live in the forest -- completely covered every year by fallen material, and left alone.
Sometimes we garden too intensively. We read about what plants must have, then intervene and add amendments and try to force conditions for them when only patience and nature's own process are needed.
A Garden oops. Or as Joene calls them, GOOPs. You can read more on her blog on the first of every month.