Three somewhat compact selections of Joe Pye weed (‘Little Joe’, ‘Gateway’, and ‘Phantom’) are planted in the damp lower end of the rear garden, with the tall native recently invading into edges of the barely maintained koi pond. The native is first to reach peak bloom, with the others slightly behind to varying degrees, with variations mostly due to exposure to sunlight.
All Joe Pye weeds are in part to full sun, and on a sunny day there will be multiple Tiger swallowtails (above) on each flower (inflorescence). This has been a good year for butterflies, with abundant quantities of Tiger swallowtails, more numerous Black swallowtails than I’ve seen before, and an occasional Monarch (below). A year ago, numbers of all were down, which reminds the gardener to be patient and not rush to judgments.
No doubt, Joe Pye, tall or compact, is not well suited to every garden, but it fits perfectly into this very informal space. In a rare instance of proper planning, the Joe Pyes are appropriately placed, with the seven foot tall native far out of reach across the pond, and the most compact (‘Phantom’, I think) nearer walking paths, where butterflies can be enjoyed at closer range.
All are rather large and coarsely textured, and though flowers persist for a month or longer, blooms in the heat of midsummer are not at the top of many lists. It is the combined attraction of butterflies, and Joe Pye’s large and vigorous habit that earns its place in this garden.