Sunday, April 20, 2008
Looking for Joe Pye
The book that made me a gardener (see “profile”, on the right), contained a number of “must-have” plants that I pursued with a passion when I got ready to establish my current garden, nearly four years ago. Almost none appealed to me more than Joe Pye Weed, a plant I had until then never even heard of, but it still took me more than two years of visiting local nurseries to find one (at Land Arts, Monroe, Georgia). I almost did not buy it. It was too tall, scraggly and ugly, with the leaves on its bottom two feet of stem brown and shriveled up. Despite its appearance, I did buy it and while it didn’t do much to enhance my garden that first year (2006), it came back nicely last year – big, bushy and attracting lots of butterflies. No wonder I eagerly anticipated its appearance this year. Three weeks ago I was at Land Arts again, so see if they had a supply of Joe Pyes again (not yet!) and to ask if it was unusual that I had not seen a trace of my plant yet (no – too early, too cold). Sure enough, I began detecting tiny reddish pimples coming out of the ground shortly thereafter and today they and others have grown, turned green and are hopefully lifting themselves up towards the sun. My 2006 Joe Pye Weed is sending up more than 3 dozen shoots this year, in a 15-inch circle, and I can’t wait for it to grow and attract butterflies again this summer. At a plant clinic a colleague and I conducted a few weeks ago, I mentioned Joe Pye Weed to everyone who asked about butterfly gardens. No one had heard of it, but I hope at least some have gone looking for it and are now adding it to their landscapes. It’s not particularly drought-friendly (in fact, it needs lots of water), but once you’ve got one in your garden, it’s hard to imagine ever doing without it again.