Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Two Kindly Weeds: Morning Glory Grandpa Otts and Gloaming Mistflower

 Post 51

Early Fall is when the air freshens up and it is pleasure to go back into the garden, a pleasure, that is, until you notice the weeds.

As you start to clear stuff out: weeds and dead or rotting matter, mildewed stems and spotted leaves, you realize that there is less blooming than earlier in the season. Annuals, the ones that did not burn out in the heat, are still strong but most perennials are done.

If you are lucky some perennials will look good as they age , such as the cones of the Pee-Gee hydrangea, above right. Still, if it were not for two late-flowering, beautiful, rampant things,  much of the garden would loose luster well before its end.

Here is my hell strip with some pink asters and the two kindly weeds: Granpa Otts Morning Glory and Wild Ageratum, or Mist Flower.

Though they spread like green rampage, they can work well in a wild garden

And why would I call a Morning Glory a weed? Well, because this one acts like one; it's hard to kill, overpasses its boundaries and, if allowed, can strangle other plants. Nevertheless, it is a kindly weed because it does not get its full growth till late in the season when you have the space and need the color. Best of all, it is easy to yank or hoe out, you do not even have to dig.

Here is what the Seed Savers Exchange says about it--

"(Ipomoea purpurea) One of the original Bavarian varieties that started SSE. Given to Kent and Diane (Ott) Whealy in 1972 by her grandfather, Baptist John Ott, who lived on a 40-acre farm near St. Lucas, Iowa. Beautiful deep purple flower with a red star in its throat. Reliably self-seeds each year. Plants will climb 15' or more, if given support. Self-seeding hardy annual at Heritage Farm (zone 4)."

 So, buy one seed packet once, and you will have this forever. Because it is dark, and has a cool navy purple with streaks of hot violet, its flower, though small, looks  dramatic and dynamic.

 Mistflower, on the other hand, is a receding blue grey that looks best at twilight, when the blue takes on a weird, delightful glow. It is a bit of a filler since it looks best highlighted by bolder plants.

The way I handle its invasiveness is that every year, once bloom is done, I pull it out by its shallow roots. Yet, by June of the next year, it starts to pop up again. This is good, cause this is an area where I have had a lot of bulbs and spring ephemerals.  With this late riser, I get two seasons out of one patch of soil. 

For me, it's less effort to restrain vigorous plants than to cajole fussy ones. And I like the balance of wildness to tame that they engender. This is probably more of a reflection of my particular inner balance than of any practical gardening wisdom. 

Whatever it is that gives personal style to the garden, or any other aspect of your life, it comes from inside you.

All the tips in the world, books, quotes, guides, are just fodder for the deep part of yourself that creates.

That creates out of love. 

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