Hardy Geranium or Aggressive Weed?

Mistaken identity seems to be a running theme with me these days.

While finally tackling the seemingly Herculean task of finally weeding the side garden, I noticed that what I have thus far believed to be a geranium was running rampant and spreading itself all over the place.

Full disclosure:  before I settled on “geranium,” I wondered if this particular plant might be one of the blue aquilegia from seeds I planted nearby last fall or possibly a bleeding heart  (Didn’t I plant one there my first summer here, gosh darn it?  And where did IT go?)  Sigh.

I thought it looked like a hardy geranium I had bought and planted across the driveway…it had lovely purple flowers last year and the leaves do indeed look similar…I don’t remember planting this particular plant, though, and I’m starting to wonder if it might be a plain old weed.  One that is spreading.  I pulled up many of the little babies that were popping up left and right but saved the big plant in hopes of figuring it out.

Last year I let several weeds grow happily nearly all summer long just because I wasn’t sure what they were and wanted to give them time to see who they became before ripping them out.  Nine times out of ten they were weeds.

In case it rings any bells for any of you, I’m including a few photos of the current culprit: (again with the camera phone!  Sorry!)

close up of Mystery Plant stem

close up of Mystery Plant leaf

Mystery plant seems to grow in a mound. This one is about a foot tall.

I am pretty sure that my aquilegia seeds DID come up behind this plant and that these are the young columbines here:


The leaves of this plant are kind of similar in size and shape to the Mystery Plant, but I’m pretty sure this one is Aquilegia…at least it came up right where the marker says I planted seeds! (See, I do mark *some* things now and then…trying to get better at this!)

Any ideas?  Is it geranium?

Mysterious Plant: Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch? (WITH UPDATES)

Friend or foe?  I don’t know!

I couldn’t resist the Wizard of Oz reference, as my garden has been a sort of enchanted world to me this spring.  (And I wouldn’t say no to that beautiful field of poppies, either.)

Shortly after we moved into our place last August my friend Bev gave me quite the housewarming present – a carload of perennial divisions and seeds from her garden.  You can read the list of gifted plants here.

She had clearly labeled all of her seed packets with name, color of flowers, any special notes and  instructions as to whether the seeds should be planted in Spring or Fall.  Wonderful!

So, last fall I went around the borders of our yard and side garden, scattering seeds, willing them to come up for me this year.

The question is, have they?  Unfortunately, I just don’t know!  This is our first spring here, and so there are lots of things coming up – perennials from Bev’s divisions, plants that the previous tenants had left behind, bulbs that I planted last fall, and random things that have re-seeded themselves here and there (like the Rose of Sharon).  I don’t know my weeds very well and I am also new to perennial gardening, so I don’t know what to look for in most of these emerging plants.  Some I know are biennials and so they may look different this first year than they will next year.

So far I know what Lambs Quarters looks like (and that I can eat it, and that it grows all over  our yard!), and I think we’ve identified a lacy-foliaged patch of plants as Larkspur (which I am ecstatic about – they came up!  They came up!)  Larkspur

I’ve been reluctant to pull up certain things until they get large enough that I can hopefully identify them…and that time has come.

I need to do some research and look at some google images, but if anyone out there happens to recognize any of these plants (whether they be good or evil), I’d sure appreciate knowing.

Sadly, I LOST MY GARDEN JOURNALS.  Everything.  Ironically, I left them at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Plant Sale at the cashier desk.  Unfortunately the journals were never turned in to their lost and found.  I really don’t know what good all of my maps and charts and info and records would do anyone else, and I keep hoping that they’ll be turned in but it’s not looking good.  SO, I no longer have a record of  which seed I planted last fall, but here are the ones I’m pretty sure got planted and I’m on the lookout for:

Foxgloves, Feverfew, Hollyhocks, Butterfly Weed, Forget-Me-Nots, and Hibiscus Trionum (Flower of the Hour.)

Not so sure about: Cockscomb, Calliopsis, Cleome, Miribalis (Four o’Clocks),  and Dwarf White Zinnia – those may have been spring-planting seeds.

At any rate, and with no further adieu, here are the mystery flora…all 20 of them-yikes! I’m hoping that at least half of them are “good witches,” but I’m not so sure I’ll be that lucky.

**Comments and names refer to the photo above.
Mystery Plant #1

Mystery Plant #1, overhead view

Mystery Plant #2  (one vote for WEED)

Mystery Plant #2, overhead view (one vote for WEED)

Mystery Plant #2, full view (one vote for WEED)

Mystery Plant #3
Mystery Plant #4 – lovely purple flowers! (Tradescantia, SPIDERWORT – a keeper!)

Mystery Plant #4, close up (Tradescantia, SPIDERWORT – a keeper!)

Mystery Plant # 5 – long and leggy, near the Persian Shield (possibly Heath Aster?  Worth keeping a while to find out…)

Mystery Plant #6

Mystery Plant #7

Mystery Plant #8

Mystery Plant #9
Mystery Plant #9, another view

Mystery Plant #10

Mystery Plant #11

Mystery Plant #12

Mystery Plant #13

Mystery Plant #13, overhead view

Mystery Plant #14

Mystery Plant #15

Mystery Plant #16
That’s Mystery Plant #16 in the foreground. The large plant behind it is Mystery Plant #17.

Top view of Mystery Plant #17. To the right you can see a small rose that self-seeded in this unexpected spot. It doesn’t receive a full day’s sun back here, and yet this wild rose seems to be growing. Go figure.

Mystery Plant #18, overhead view. (possibly Heath Aster?  Worth keeping a while to find out…)

Mystery Plant #18 again. Long, leggy and grassy…looks like Mystery Plant #5, which makes me think it is likely a weed.  (possibly Heath Aster?  Worth keeping a while to find out…)

Mystery Plant #19

Last but not least, Mystery Plant #20.   (Likely a tree…giving it a few more weeks to see what it does.)