Monday, April 18, 2011
After a day and night of heavy rain, the hybrid Petasites (Petasites hybridus) is making its weird emergence from the mud, accompanied by bits of Lysicachia nummularia and Equisetum arvense. This, along with its cousin Petasites japonica, is repeated in various areas of the garden, and is a major theme plant in several communities of competitive plants. The fallen leaves remain in place because these plants are not daunted by a matted leaf cover. And eventually, the leaves will decay and add organic matter to the heavy clay soil.
This is not a particularly appealing time of year, especially after heavy rain, but in a few weeks the foliage cover will form contrasting bands of shape, texture, and color with the adjacent Darmera peltata, Sagittaria latifolia, and Carex muskengumensis. Actually, the word "shape" doesn't describe the visual effect well, which is more one of contrasting, three-dimensional, geometric forms, not exactly "sculptural" in a traditional sense, but metaphorically so.
I know Petasites is considered a radically invasive plant, but not in my garden. The clay appears to put the brakes on; it actually spreads quite slowly. In a conventional garden, I'd avoid it, but at Federal Twist, I need its aggressive, competitive character. Okay, you're hearing it again ... right plant, right place.