Selecting Escape Weeds

When we first bought our place I thought it would take me 5 years to eradicate the field of burdock that loomed behind the apple orchard like clasping marauders. Sixteen years later my wife and I are still pulling them out, cutting them down, throwing them onto piles that are then burnt in late fall. Although I have reclaimed the field where they once proliferated I still have a hedge of them between the orchard and a field that gets hayed. Every time I pull the nasty burrs out of my dogs coat I curse those pilgrims for bringing them to this country.Escape plants show up all the time in the garden -some I love, some simply are not welcome.  Golden rod, milkweed, asters, St. John’s wart, boneset, Joe Pye weed and bull rushes have all arrived unannounced like Jehovah witnesses at my doorstep.  Just because they have intruded into your private domain does not mean they get to stay!

Boneset proliferating around pond.

I have a 4 to 5 ft. area around the edge of my pond where I encourage the plants I want in this marshy habitat and they include:  flag iris, boneset, sedges, reeds, grasses and asters. For the past several autumns, I have set about ripping 3 varieties of golden rod out by their roots.  This year my work has paid off as I now have many more boneset plants -a tall white flowering perennial and several varieties of  pale lavender to purple flowering asters.  I particularly love the asters with their cloud like smoky blue flowers dangling at the water’s edge.

Asters growing on slope.

Detail of goldenrod.

Field of Milkweed & Goldenrod.

It’s funny to think the Brits actually pay good money for golden rod and plant it right into their borders!   The chrome yellow flowers to my mind looks best at a distance in meadows and that means not in my garden. I have resigned myself to the fact that removing weeds will be an ongoing battle as long as I continue to garden.  I like to think I get to conduct the symphony of color, texture and yes the escapes that appear, but I have to admit more often than not those escapes are the poetry in the garden. Just look at the photo of one that showed up next to the bright red hips of the Rugosa rose.

Asters showed up near Rugosa Rose.

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One Response to Selecting Escape Weeds

  1. Deborah B says:

    I thought the escapee in the last example was going to be your dog. 🙂
    I think the goldenrod the Brits are crazy about are some of the species that aren’t so invasive. Solidago canadensis is the one we all struggle with, with its running roots. It takes all the shine out of the other solidago species for me too, but I can see how they might look good… if you weren’t surrounded by acres of it.

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