This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Four White (and One Orange) Perennials for Late June

This post was a bit difficult for me because I was unable to identify any of these white-flowered specimens without consulting the internet, my library, and my local plant expert.

To the right is a gorgeous member of the large Polygonum genus, which includes bindweeds, knotweeds, buckwheat and much more. Polygonum has a bad rap because of the so-called Mexican bamboo (P. cuspidatum) which is neither Mexican nor a bamboo. One thing it is is very robust, so much so that it is officially unwelcome in Michigan. At one time a mail-order nursery sold cultivars of the species with a special note: 'Shipping is $10.00, or we can just give the plant your address and let it grow its way to you.'

The pictured plant is Polygonum polymorphum, which forms a nice fat clump but doesn't run wild. I've run into other Polygonum types that are deserving of wider use.

Next up is Filipendula ulmaria, 'commonly' known as meadowsweet or mead-wort. Certainly it is more commonly known in Europe and western Asia where it is native. Us North Americans are more familiar with our native F. rubra, Queen of the Prairie. I found this specimen growing in the middle of a shade garden in the 'Waterhill' neighborhood of Ann Arbor. Nobody was home so I took the liberty of entering the garden to get a close view. 

OK, this one to the right is really not for the garden. It is the common crown-vetch (Securigera varia) and I found it besides the parking lot at Knights Market. The thing is: I always thought the flowers of this species were purple (or at least purple-ish). Tony Reznicek set me straight. Whites and pinks happen. 

This plant was introduced for erosion control and it certainly does a satisfactory job in that respect. The problem is it keeps spreading and is very hard to get rid of. 

I don't know what the plant to the left is. I bought it from Kathy Melmoth at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. She has retired and I don't know how to reach her. I presume it is a Michigan native, since that was her specialty. Also it is a composite. I was unable to match it to anything in or the second volume of The Random House Book of Perennials by Phillips and Rix (a great series to have on you shelf!). So please, dear reader, help me out. Or do I have to go back to Tony Reznicek . . .

The unfortunately-named butterfly-"weed" makes for the nicest orange in the plant world, IMHO. If I recall correctly, I received the one pictured from a grower in upstate New York, and it has more yellow that the usual type. It is also flowering much earlier than the other specimens in my garden. Butterfly-weed is a species of milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa. You'll see a lot of it in the environs of Pickerel Lake. 

And for comic relief, I offer the picture to the left. Yeah, sure, some company probably sprayed an herbicide, but how sad! I'm so used to seeing these signs posted by companies treating lawns or spraying trees. Here someone has applied chemicals to kill everything -- in an effort to beautify the parking lot. Why not plant some butterfly-weed!


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  3. It is worth to mention that Filipendula ulmaria is a modest species but with nice wrinkled leaves and a wonderful sweet fragance that reminds the common hawthorn flowers.

  4. The mysterious composite is unknown to me, sorry. Are you sure that this is a composite?

  5. Tribu Eupatorieae probably, but leaves are different to Ageratina.


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