A soggy seedling


The rear garden slopes gently so that the soil along the rear property line remains soggy through much of the summer, and in a rainy spring the area will be saturated for days. Two river birches and a variegated pussy willow thrive, and immediately beyond the border are cattails, brambles, and native vegetation that tolerates the constant dampness. 

Several years ago a buckeye popped up on a spot of slightly higher ground in the shade of one of the tall birches, and I assumed that it was a seedling from the red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) that is planted along the forest’s edge near the front of the garden. In early summer the low branching shrub began to grow upright flower spikes distinctly different from the spring blooming red buckeye’s, and early in July the tall white bottlebrush flowers confirmed that it was a seedling of the native bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora, above).

Seedlings are welcome in the garden so long as I can differentiate keepers from weeds before they are pulled out. In the wet soil towering Joe Pye weeds (Eupatorium purpureum, above) flourish, and in summer butterflies and bees swarm their dusky purple blooms. More compact varieties have been planted in the garden, and seedlings from these are nearly identical to the parent plants so that Joe Pye weeds have been encouraged to pop up between the yellow leafed bluebeard (Caropteris incana ‘Sunshine Blue’) in the sunny, dry garden surrounding the swimming pond.

‘Sunshine Blue’ is a distinct improvement to the older ‘Worcester Gold’ (above) that is planted along the front driveway, and fades to a washed out yellow in summer’s heat. In this garden ‘Worcester Gold’ flowers a week earlier, but both bloom for many weeks, and are favored by bumblebees and hummingbird moths.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tiff says:

    I didn’t know JPW had such lovely blossoms. We’ll let ours grow from now on.

  2. Dave says:

    Today I’m in Mobile, Alabama, and at the Mobile Botanic garden there was a fine Joe Pye. It was slightly past bloom, but still looking good. Many perennials will not grow in the persistent heat and humidity of the deep south, but Joe Pye is likely to thrive on most of this continent.

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