September 6, 2010

Lost in a Maze

The goldenrod in the meadow is 6 feet tall and it's everywhere, in solid stands, a massive monoculture of stiff stalks and plumy golden tassels.

How can this be an ornamental?  I know there are smaller solidago cultivars, and I know it's widely planted in European gardens, but really, I wouldn't have it in mine.  Actually I do have it, because it self sows from the meadow into my adjacent gardens and lawn all summer and I weed, weed, weed it.

I'm thinking of cutting paths in the meadow and charging families a dollar for the scary treat of taking their children through my goldenrod maze.  But I'm afraid some would get lost and their parents would abandon them, and then I'd have ..... children.  In the meadow.

Corn mazes appear around the state in summer, and Lyman Orchards has a sunflower maze in a 3 acre field near their apple orchards.  Check out the designs in the link, they're quite creative! 

They have viewing platforms that rise above the sunflowers so you can view the design from above --- I thought they were lifeguard stations to rescue anyone hopelessly lost in the maze.

Flickr: Lynn Gardner
But why plant sunflowers or corn, when every year a dense field of goldenrod takes over the meadow and I just need to mow some paths? 

I have tree saplings planted throughout the meadow and on the steep hill behind it.  Eventually the trees will create a forest of shade to discourage all the sun-loving goldenrod, but right now the goldenrod towers above all else, reaching up into the canopy of the bigger trees, and simply overwhelming the littlest saplings.

I do not try to move about in the meadow in summer. Too many ticks, too hot and sunny, and late in the summer trying to get through the stands of goldenrod requires the skill of a jungle trekker with a machete.  But this year I needed to get water to the thirsting saplings, so I hauled hoses and watering cans out there every other week or so.  I was out there yesterday.

What an ordeal!  I had to hack and chop my way through to the trees, and I had to know where they were by instinct, since the goldenrod baffled and engulfed and disoriented me.  It was truly like being in a maze, but I had to create my own paths.  I really need some viewing platforms out there.

Goldenrod does not cause the hayfever allergy that plagues so many sufferers this month.  That would be ragweed, which uses air pollination to reproduce, a ridiculous strategy that requires billions and billions of pollen particles to be released into the air in the hopes that the wind will randomly carry a few to a female flower.

Instead, goldenrod is insect pollinated, so it doesn't spew pollen into the air.  As a true insect attractor, it has very showy, bright flowers to lure them.  And I have to admit they are beautiful plumes.

I have to go back out into the field today.  Yesterday I left a watering can out there by mistake.  It's bright blue plastic and is easy to spot.  Easy, that is, if it weren't lying at the bottom of a vast canyon of goldenrod towers. 

If I don't come back in shortly, come out and call me.  I'll be lost in the labyrinth of a wild goldenrod maze.  I think I could navigate back in from the sound of your voice.


  1. I do love the fields of goldenrod here and there in our southern New England landscape. It's nice you have one right nearby...

  2. I wish you could see the vision you inspired in my head of screaming, whining children lost in your field. Their parents gleefully slipping away with big smiles knowing they were going to be well fed and watered by you. Maybe their parents will pick them up again next spring when they can then turn them loose out in their own gardens for the summer. tee hee...

  3. Beware of Goldenrod waving your watering can at you...don't go in there! ;-)

  4. Cyndy, I have a love-hate with our New England goldenrod fields... from far away they really are pretty to look at.

    Lisa, can you imagine anything worse than other people's children run amok in your fields?

    Garden Ms. S, I did go back in there and I found the watering can!

  5. We actually use goldenrod at the flower shop, only we call it solidago, (sounds better to customers, lol).

  6. Deborah, I hope you have smaller, more manageable solidago in the flowershop than the 6 foot goldenrod towers in my field!

  7. I know what you mean about the tall species -- when we moved here what are now our pastures were an imposing mass of goldenrod and groundsel trees.

    I think the goldenrod that most people put in their gardens is S. rugosa 'Fireworks'. I have wild S. rugosa here and even that is much smaller and compact than other goldenrods. The foliage is pretty too, a dark green scalloped leave tinged with purple.


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