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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A (not so) Charming Volunteer

Yesterday I posted about a charming volunteer plant that mysteriously appeared in my garden one day. Thanks to Nan Ondra at Hayefield, I now know that it is Semiaquilegia ecalcarata.

Another volunteer in my garden is a plant that I call purple Perilla. I'm pretty sure of the botanical name on this one, it's Perilla frutescens. The arrival of this plant in my garden is not a mystery, I asked my friend Chris for a few pieces.

Perilla reminds me of Coleus. It has a lovely leaf and being part of the mint family, it also smells delicious. Since it is not winter hardy here, you'd think that it wouldn't be invasive in your garden.

As you can see from the opening photo, the deep rich purple of Perilla makes it the most amazing companion plant in deep shade, semi shade and even some sunny spots. But wait! It also has nice tall spires of small lavender blue blooms. How charming...uh oh. If you leave those spires on the plant they will scatter a gazillion seeds through out your garden.

Look how sweet they look here coming up by the Hosta. This is the time I need to remind myself that each of these plants can grow to almost a meter (3') tall. Do you think you'll be able to see any of those Hosta then?

Unfortunately I made the mistake of letting these beauties grow and many of the low growing shade plants in my garden suffered that year. Last year I tried hard to be ruthless in pulling out as many as I could find. Just leave a few in the bed, I kept telling myself, further in the back so I could enjoy that marvelous color. Another good idea would be to cut the blooms off but by then it's late summer and early fall and I'm usually off doing some kind of Marching Band thing then.

I no longer need a reminder though about how prolific Perilla can be. All I have to do is look down at my feet to see that they will grow anywhere their tiny seeds hit the ground.


Cinj said...

I know how time consuming marching band can be, I used to be in one. I'm not really what you would call a talented musician or anything though. What do you do?

It does look like a beautiful plant. If you don't mind not even getting the flowers, could you cut them off when they first appear? I don't know if that would really work anyway, just an idea I thought I'd share.

Melanie said...

Hi Cinj, yes, I could cut those flowers off, actually, that's exactly what I should do!

My older daughter was in the marching band for 4 years in the colorguard (she did flags, rifles and sabers in the performances). Now my younger daughter is also in the colorguard. I sew the colorguard flags, measure and alter the colorguard uniforms, put in orders for equipment and I'm co-president of the parents association. It's all consuming in the fall but it's worth it as the kids are just amazing.

Gail said...


I am with you on this one...Of with their heads! Tt is all over the garden beds here! It is charming and then shows its thug like behavior!

I have also seen it in the nearby woods. Sigh...invasives are such a problem


redrahde said...

Wow! It would be just like me to buy a plant like that. I think I'll try to stay away from that one. Last year, I put a pot of Colorcasia Illustris (Black Elephant Ear)in a bed to fill a spot where a small tree had been removed. That plant was working on taking over the bed when winter killed most of it back. I spent part of yesterday pulling up all the new little leaves that were coming up everwhere. They were attached to one another by big thick runners under the ground. Since I have limited space, I won't be planting this one again either.

garden girl said...

such a seductive temptress - it's so pretty!

GardenJoy4Me said...

I have to admit .. that plant is one dramatic colour I would love too. And that shot with the day lily and liatris with it .. wow .. beautiful ...
But all those gazillion volunteers .. YIKES ! .. you are going to be busy girl !
Have we said Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker' lately ? LOL
Hey .. I have a day lily I would like you to look at .. a creamy yellow double flower one .. I have no idea what cultivar it is .. can you send me a message when you are free ?

Anonymous said...

Hi Melanie don't verged April brings showers but also your Mom. My work is gut out for me to remove hundreds of Perillas,and you will say again "nicht alle".Cant wait to get my hands in the dirt Mom

Cinj said...

Wow. Sounds like you find plenty of things to keep yourself busy with! I always really enjoyed marching band, it's a really great experience too. They're lucky to have dedicated volunteers like you. The kids DO make it totally worth it. I hope my kids want to do something like that when they grow up, it did so much for my character development. Kudos to you!

Brenda Kula said...

I do love anything mint. I know it is invasive, but so far it hasn't done that in my yard. But then I only put it in about a year ago. Still, this is Texas. Things grow much of the year. We'll see. But I love mint tucked in spots by the little pond. Makes it smell nice!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

the plant is very pretty, but it's gonna be a monster. You have to pull it out. Too bad.

tina said...

some people call this basil. i have no idea why. it is an awful plant and i can't believe people give it away. my aunt gave me some in a garden in north carolina. it spread and i learned my lesson. now if i could just get rid of the houtunia (sp)

Diana Hartigan said...

I have just stumbled across your blog when I was searching for propagating sedums. I will be a regular visitor from 'downunder' as I love reading about what gardeners in other parts of the world are doing. Your garden looks lovely.

Frances, said...

OHHHH, we have that, it has seeded in the gravel to the point that the gravel is now purple. This is the one time I will spray. In the garden beds The seedlings can be pulled, shaded out by the other plants, but in the gravel, holy smokes! Don't let tham live.