Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pulling Up Persicarias

It turns out the lovely compost that I spread all over my gardens this spring was full of weed seeds. I'm seeing easily recognizable smartweed seedlings popping up densely everywhere I added compost. They are little, easily removed, and absolutely everywhere I look. When I pull them up more appear.

I kind of knew that would happen. A huge stand of smartweed surrounds the compost pile, and I know my nice crumbly dirt and leaves did not really cook enough to sterilize anything.

Weedy smartweed. Kind of pretty, but ugh.

Pink flowered smartweed gets to be a huge arching plant. It's a Persicaria -- fortunately not the horribly invasive Japanese knotweed that is in the family, but smartweed also takes over wherever it seeds. And it is now seeded in all my gardens. I am so tired of endlessly weeding this plant.

I have another Persicaria in my garden, but it's one I planted and loved and now I don't know what to do with it. It's a well behaved dwarf, Persicaria affinis 'Dimity', also called Himalayan fleeceflower. It is a groundcover that spreads nicely into a lovely mat of clean foliage with pink and white pipe cleaner flowers held upright over the leaves. The mat is thick and suppresses weeds.

A lovely patch of clean green 'Dimity' foliage and little wands of pink flowers under a bush clover shrub.

In most autumns it turns bright red, making a fantastic contrast with buff yellow amsonia foliage and strappy green grasses.

Fall color. Some years it is rustier brown, some years redder.

I adore the funny flowers, and they last all summer, then remain standing up in fall as they turn rust colored. 'Dimity' forms the lower level of the Blueberry Garden and I love it. Most of the time.

Pipe cleaners!

The problem is that if it is very dry in spring, the leaves never green up. Then this cute groundcover is just a brown desiccated mess. Not reduced, not skimpy, not waiting for wetter weather to burst forth; the whole mat simply stays brown and dry.

It's alive this spring, with green leaves around the edges of the garden where a little moisture collects. Isolated pops of green are emerging here and there.

The bush clover in the center will fill out and get large in summer,
but the groundcover fleeceflower won't green up this year.

But I know from past dry springs that it won't fill in. Rain too late in the season won't help. It's such a beautiful, fresh looking mat of green when it's happy, and it's so dry and dead looking when it's not.

So, I think I want to take it out. As much as I love this groundcover most years, I can't stand it in others when it looks so bad all season.


I can't just pull up the brown stuff and leave the pockets of green -- the plant spreads by rootlets and all the stems are hopelessly entwined. So it's getting ripped out in large tangled masses. I think I'll put in some nice leafy green alchemillas, Lady's mantle, instead. They will make a mounding groundcover and be more reliably leafy and green.

So it seems this spring I am destined to spend pulling up Persicarias. Both the weedy seedlings  --goodbye to those -- and the cute pipe cleaner Himalayan fleeceflower plants that I had loved so much.

No comments:

Post a Comment