I visited the riverbank a few days ago during a survey of drought damage to the lower garden and discovered wild ageratum growing in clumps above the river’s edge. Though pretty in situ, it seemed a meager offering for “In a Vase on Monday,” so I looked for other blooms that could add to its modest charm. Quickly assembled, the vase was put aside when I found the camera’s memory card was AWOL (once again) and then abandoned when I became busy with the concerns of the day.
Perched initially near the kitchen sink and then moved to the sunroom, these wild things have required a startling amount of water. Every time they’ve caught my eye, I’ve found their vase nearly empty. And though they’re not quite fresh anymore and many gardeners would call them “weeds,” they still make me smile. So why not share?
Wild ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum), also called blue mist flower and previously classified as Eupatorium, is a perennial wildflower native to the West Indies that grows from New Jersey to Florida and as far west as Missouri and Texas. The clusters of purple-blue flowers at the tip of each stem are surprisingly like those of floss flower (Ageratum), and though both plants grow best in full sun or part shade with rich, moist soil, their similarities end there. The smaller floss flower is an annual with thin, fibrous roots, while this vigorous perennial grows from a mass of interwoven rhizomes, reaching up to 3-feet tall and about half as wide.
Oriental lady’s thumb (Persicaria longiseta) is an Asian knotweed that grows in the eastern half of the U.S. and much of Canada. A common nuisance in the rice paddies of its native wetlands, it can grow in both moist and dry habitats, as well as sun and shade, and is found in marshes, meadows, and forests.
I’ve never learned to distinguish one little white aster from another and find them impossible to decipher, so your guess is as good as mine on the identity of this native. I think it’s flowers with sunny yellow disks and thin white petals are delightful though, don’t you?