Thursday, May 14, 2015

Too Much of a Good (?) Thing


Have you ever heard of Lythrum virgatum Dropmore? I hadn't either until Dave bought some to plant in our garden -- and then I realized with horror that it's purple loosestrife, a plant that I remember well from my years in New York as an invasive. It's pretty, but in North America purple loosestrife has taken over thousands of acres of wetlands. I thought, "We can't plant this!"

But then I started doing some reading and it turns out that in U.K. gardens loosestrife is perfectly acceptable. Apparently is does have a tendency to seed itself quite vigorously -- unless the flower heads are removed before they go to seed -- but it's not dreaded (and certainly not prohibited) the way it is in parts of the U.S. For one thing, it's native to Europe, so as I understand it, it's not exotic to our ecosystem and it has natural pests that help keep it in line.

So I'm less nervous now about the loosestrife.

As I was reading about it, though, I came across a list of the 100 worst exotic invasive species, and on the list I recognized another name from our garden: Fallopia.

Dave planted Fallopia baldschuanica, or Russian Vine, on our fences. I've been wary of this vine from the beginning. It grows incredibly fast and it's already threatened to twine its way into our trees. The Fallopia on the exotic invaders list is not Russian Vine -- it's Fallopia japonica, or Japanese Knotweed, a sister plant. But still! I read enough warnings about Russian Vine in gardens that I've persuaded Dave to remove it. We're going to plant climbing hydrangeas instead.

And finally, another name on the list caught my eye: Euphorbia esula, or leafy spurge. We have lots of this stuff, too, or a very similar Euphorbia cousin. It was here before we moved in. And we like it, so we've left it, but man, it is a vigorous grower.

And then there's the borage, which one of my commenters recently warned would  "take over your garden when it seeds." We have a borage hedge growing at the back of our property. We have wisteria and rose vines winding up into our trees from the neighbors' garden. And there's English ivy, and persicaria, and purple buddleia, and our newfound forget-me-nots -- all vigorous growers.

I guess gardening really is a matter of constantly reining in the craziness!

(Photo: Another species that tends to proliferate wildly -- the pigeon.)

11 comments:

alphabet soup said...

Weeds, by definition it depends on what they are and where they are growing according to a radio program I listened to recently. Introduced species are often the baddies.

And pigeons, prolific and in every city in the world I'm sure, but you have to say their iridescent breast feathers are rather lovely.

Ms Soup

e said...

I'm glad at least one of you enjoys weeding and pruning. It sounds as though they'll be a lot of both going on.

jo(e) said...

I'm in upstate New York, and yes, we do have whole fields of purple loosestrife because, as you say, it's an invasive that takes over. I have to admit that as much as it is an environmental threat, the fields of purple can be gorgeous to look at.

ellen abbott said...

interesting list. the salt cedar is a real problem along the Rio Grande. one thing they didn't have on it though is the wild Mexican petunia. pretty delicate flowers that bloom en mass late summer. spreads by tiny seeds which explode out of the pod and by root underground. I had those at the city house and it was a constant battle.

Ms. Moon said...

Sometimes I think it is we humans who are the most dangerous invasive species.

Marty Damon said...

I remember a few years ago, on a day trip through Concord, MA, and exclaiming over the really stunning swaths of purple flowers. Someone turned to me and explained that it had become a curse upon the land.
Seems the person giving it its Latin name knew what they were talking about when they tacked "Dropmore" onto the end of its name.

The Bug said...

Oh but I LOVE that purple stuff!

Sharon Anck said...

Maybe it's a good thing that I don't garden!

Love the photos today. It's perfect.

Lynne said...

Hah, love the opposite facing pigeons! Too funny.

You are becoming quite the gardner.

Steve Reed said...

Ms Soup: You're right! A weed is just a plant that we think of negatively, for whatever reason. And yes, I actually do like the pigeons. They're hilarious to watch trying to eat from our feeders. So ungainly!

E: We both like it, but he likes it more than I do!

Jo(e): When I first saw it I thought it was beautiful -- until I knew the backstory. It's nice to be able to have it in the garden, though.

Ellen: I had to look up Mexican petunia. I'm sure I've seen those in gardens before. I guess every garden has some overenthusiastic spreaders!

Ms Moon: I think, indeed, we are. We meet every definition, don't we?

Marty: "Dropmore" is actually the hybrid name, and it's named for Dropmore Park, a historic house in Buckinghamshire. But yes, it is a fitting name for such heavily seeding plants.

Bug: Me too! It IS pretty.

Sharon: Thanks! :)

Lynne: Well, I've always liked plants. I always had houseplants, except in New York, where my apartment was too dark!

jenny_o said...

Wonderful photo of the pigeons - it's like an illustration from a bird book: "this is the front, and over here is the back" :)