Cheerful Giants of the Garden
The Island Bed in the front garden really peaks in high summer. That’s when the cupplant (Silphium perfoliatum) and sweet joe pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) come into bloom. These friendly giants are Midwest natives and great plants for birds and pollinators.
In spring the Island Bed is blue – there is squill (Scilla sibirica) in April, and later on Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ and Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohioensis).
By mid-summer the ‘Purple Rooster’ bee balm (Monarda didyma) is flowering, along with the pink and white blooms of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).
But the cupplant steals the show by the end of July. To an extent that’s because it is impossible to ignore at 8-10′ high in my garden.
But cup plant is not a malevolent giant. Instead, the bunches of yellow daisies are cheerful and friendly.
Some people fear cupplant as unmanageable, but I don’t find it to be so. It does self-sow, but the seedlings are not too hard to dig out. I certainly would not cut off the seed heads, which are a favorite of goldfinches.
The clumps do get very crowded, and I like to yank out every fourth stalk or so by the end of May. This results in sturdier plants, I think.
The sweet joe pye weed starts blooming within a few days of the cupplant. Pink and yellow are not supposed to go well together, but these plants seem like natural companions to me. Perhaps that’s because the joe pye weed’s flowers are a very understated, soft pink.
The texture of the flowerheads is soft and fuzzy as well. Sweet joe pye weed does self-sow, but not aggressively. As with the cupplant, I like to thin the stands of this perennial in order to get fewer but stronger stems.
Oh, and I wanted to show that there are indeed paths between the beds in the front garden. Here is the path between the Island Bed and the Driveway Border.
And here is the path between the Island Bed and the Sidewalk Border.
What’s the tallest perennial flower in your garden?