Dear Garden Problem Lady: Garden Mistakes and Resolutions


I have made so many mistakes in the garden this year, I can’t make a coherent New Year’s Resolution. I planted in sun plants that needed shade – and vice versa. The seeds I unwittingly planted grew into giants where they had little space to thrive. Or else they died. The whole garden is one huge problem – caused by me.

The Problem Lady has not had a chance to see your garden, but your question shows great insight. For 2024, recall the wise words of James Joyce when his books failed to sell. “A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” 

Can you please identify this beautiful flower? I saw it locally this past June, and it was still blooming in September when I saw it again.

It is an annual flower called Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). It needs full sun, flowers prolifically, and tolerates poor soil. The flowers are smaller than those of Helianthus, the well-known large yellow sunflower with the dark brown center.

Sow seeds after the last frost
in the spring – close to the top of the soil because the seeds need sun to germinate. It grows fast and can easily reach 8 feet high – may need a fence or some staking.

Squirrels are at it again, digging up my spring bulbs and chewing the fat buds on my spring-flowering camellias.

Squirrels apparently like neither the taste of Daffodils nor of purple Thomasina crocus. For
all other bulbs put hardware cloth (metal screening) over your planting, and protect your Camellias with bird netting.

Why is Roundup, the well-known chemical weed killer, still on the market? I thought its developer, Monsanto, sold Roundup to Bayer, a giant German multinational company.

Yes, and now Bayer is losing money the way Monsanto did. Monsanto invented Roundup – and then developed seeds for crops that Roundup can’t kill. When those farm crops are sprayed with Roundup it kills only the weeds, not the crops. Thus Monsanto created a profit machine lasting for decades – until….

The W.H.O. in 1915 ruled Roundup “probably carcinogenic to humans.” But months later that year the EPA ruled Roundup safe. The European Union did too. Sales continued worldwide. In 2018, Monsanto sold Roundup to Bayer. Now, five years later, mega-diversified mega-rich Bayer is suffering financially as lawyers begin to craft winning cases for plaintiffs suffering from cancers.

It’s about the money. As long as profits exceed losses, Roundup remains. The next big Roundup lawsuit against Bayer is January 2024 in Philadelphia. Bayer’s new President has set aside $16 Billion for lawsuits.

The Capitol Hill Garden Club meets next on Tuesday January 9 at 7:30 pm on zoom. Karl Gercens III, Conservatory Manager of Longwood Gardens, will speak about American Gardens. Receive the zoom link at

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