With repeated downpours in recent days the depression along the lower southern border of the garden has remained flooded for weeks. While several plants show some ill effects from the constant moisture of this low lying section of garden, I’ve selected plants specifically to tolerate the often standing water of this swale. Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora, above), rodgersia (Rodgersia pinnata), and black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa, below) are mostly undeterred by the constant moisture, but buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) thrives in this soggy environment.
The foliage of the native buttonbush (below) is glossy and quite pleasant, but its globular inflorescence attracts both visitors and scores of pollinators. Visitors are discouraged from standing too close to observe bumblebees, hoverflies, and butterflies at work by the shoe sucking mud, but with the muddy ground churned up by constant deer traffic, I must slog through monthly to spray a repellent. I imagine that one day I’ll find a deer stuck in the bog, submerged in the muck to its knees, though it’s more likely that the one stuck will be me.
My wife and I discovered buttonbush along a trail at our favorite local hiking spot. A low, wide footbridge crosses the path at the base of the mountain (really, more a tall foothill, but somehow given the designation of mountain), and here was a flurry of activity to catch the eye of passersby. We lingered for a while, with the bridge affording a near viewpoint of the excited pollinators, before resuming our hike.
The next week I planted three in soil just barely damp in late July, but with an intermittent spring this soil never dries completely. For extended periods, there is standing water an inch or two deep, and this difficult circumstance seems to suit buttonbush quite well.