It’s Spring. Do You Know Where Your Perennials Are?
When I was growing up in the late Mesozoic era, TV stations used to demonstrate their civic responsibility by running a particular public service announcement. The one I have in mind usually had a still shot of some teenagers on a dark street, obscured by shadows. And there would be an announcer, asking more in sorrow than in anger: “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?”
As you might suspect, this was at a time of heightened concern about crime. Do they still run that announcement, or some version of it?
I was thinking of that old TV spot recently when I was trying to figure out where in the raised driveway border to plant three ‘Longwood Blue’ bluebeard (Caryopteris xclandonensis). I made the mental connection, such as it was, when I realized that it was spring and I didn’t know where some of my perennials were. And that meant that I was uncertain about where to put my ‘Longwood Blue’.
Several of the plants in this bed are late to emerge from dormancy, which didn’t help. (Like many teenagers, these plants stay in bed far too long.) Some examples: butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum), and Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’). I didn’t want to place my new bluebeards where they would be cheek by jowl with some inappropriate neighbor, nor did I want to damage an existing perennial while planting a new one.
Also, there were a couple of emerging mystery plants I couldn’t identify. Were they early sunflower (Heliopsis), ironweed (Vernonia)? Friend or foe? Plants in my garden have an annoying habit of disappearing, then reappearing a year or two later more robust than ever before.
Sure, I know I’m supposed to have some system to identify what is growing where, but I’m just not organized that way. So the new bluebeards sat in their pots against the south-facing wall of the house for two weeks, until I could make a more educated guess about what plants were where.
Do you know where your perennials are? Or are you making guesses and hoping for the best?