Sunday, November 05, 2006

Joe Pye Weed: Eupatorium purpureum subsp. maculatum 'Purple Bush'

A valuable perennial - one of my favorites. It's easy to grow anywhere that's a little damp, and it's rather deer resistant if you can help it get above deer grazing height by hiding it in ornamental grasses or providing early physical protection. Some survive the deer even without your help.

This is a plant with good structure - one of the strongest, easily standing up to heavy snow in my Delaware River Valley garden - beautiful umbelliferous flower heads, and distinctive foliage that makes a strong geometric statement. Though it grows in clumps, it's a good competitor and does very well in a naturalistic garden setting, easily holding its own among other aggressive plants.

Joe Pye Weed is beautiful throughout the year, providing a pale creamy frosting of color as the buds emerge in early summer, large, sometimes huge, compound flower heads in late summer then, as weather cools, turning dark mahogany in autumn rain, and a leaden brown, almost black, as the weather cools.

It would be a mistake to cut it down in the fall. The darkening color makes it a good foil for the brighter ornamental grasses, and it stands tall, turning into winter sculpture in frosts, freezing rains, and snow.

Click on the photos to see more detail.


  1. Nice pictures - very Oudolf - an acquired taste, but once acquired intensely satisfying.

    Best wishes, Yvonne

  2. The first time I saw an Oudolf planting, it hit me like a freight train. Like no other kind of gardening existed before. Now I'm realizing there is amazing variety within the "naturalistic" style, and Oudolf is only one branch of that movement.



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