Friday, July 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Flower or weed?

The other night I stopped by Laurel Hill Gardens in Chestnut Hill and to my delight, discovered several pots what I thought was Asclepias tuberosa, the native butterfly weed that I've been looking for.

Flower or weed?

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The other night  I stopped by Laurel Hill Gardens in Chestnut Hill and to my delight, discovered several pots of what I thought was Asclepias tuberosa, the native butterfly weed I've been looking for. I know, I'm supposed to be "done" buying for the season. I can't believe I ever said that word - "done" - in the same sentence as "garden." Silly me. 

So my self-righteous self got in the car to head home and all of a sudden I'm thinking, hmmm. That's an unusual color for butterfly weed. It's normally bright orange. This thing was a neon gold, outstanding, but definitely not orange. Oh well. Got home and did what I should've done at the garden center. I looked at the plant tag, and discovered that I hadn't bought the perennial butterfly weed at all. I now had six pots of Asclepias curassavica, or butterfly flower or Mexican butterfly weed, a variety called 'Silky Gold." Obviously related to what I'd wanted, but ... the tag said "hardy in zones 7-10."

Now we're talking tender perennial and non-native. I've been trying to buy mostly hardy perennials and more natives, given the expense and work of annuals and this dry summer we're having. So I flunked on both counts. I like this plant anyway. And in my protected garden, walled in and facing south, it just might make it through a mild winter. This butterfly flower - though not the "weed" I thought - will draw butterflies just the same. Monarchs, especially.

I planted it in a raised bed among the roses and herbs and one leafy grapevine that the birds seem not to have discovered ... we might even get a grape this season!  .

So I was a dummy for not reading the tag. Instead of a "weed," I got a "flower." Happy ending.  

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Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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