June 1st, 2012


Like Rugs, They Lie

So last year, I planted a cultivar of Agastache foeniculum, called “Snow Spike.” It has white flowers. Pollinators like it. (A. foeniculum, for the record, is our native giant blue hyssop, growing up to five feet tall.)

I have looked through various grower information, and it’s either 18″, 24″, 36″ or 40″ tall, depending on who you ask, lauded for its extremely good behavior, compact form, and general elegance by gardening sites the web over.

I would like to register the following objection.

At the time of this writing, “Snow Spike” is eight feet tall. I had to lash its somewhat smaller brother (a mere five and a half feet!) to a trellis, since it was leaning into the walkway, but the eight-footer is as upright and sturdy as a sequoia. There is no legginess, no phototropic lean towards the sun. It is the tallest thing in the back garden. The crabapple I planted last fall doesn’t even compete. The ginormous tomatoes top out at six feet. You have to get out of the flowerbeds and into the treeline before you find taller members of the plant kingdom, and when you do, it’s an oak tree.

Now, my original plant did not actually survive the winter, but it reseeded with the enthusiasm of an Old Testament patriarch and I have been yanking babies out of my vegetable bed and cracks in the walkway for weeks. (None of them actually landed in the flowerbed where they would be welcome, naturally.) This is one of those babies. I left several in the tiny little corner bed between the house and the sidewalk, where it receives brutal sun and not that much rain. It presumably goes without saying that I cannot be arsed to water it. It is just coming in to flower now. I fear it.

The other various Agastaches in the front yard, meanwhile, are all being well-behaved normal plants five feet tall and bringing in lots of bees and generally acting like the plant labels said they would. Apparently “Snow Spike” did not get the memo about it’s compactness.. I like a monstrous structural perennial as much as the next person, but I like to be warned in advance, so I can plant them in a space more than a foot wide where they will not systematical devour my nasturtiums.  (Is it possible that I have, through some peculiar hazard of genes, acquired an enormous mutant? Hmm. Maybe I should save those seeds. If it bred true, I would name it “Yeti.”)

So. Quite a plant. Little frightening. Plant with caution.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.