August 10, 2011
Becky's Cup Plant
Transported to Missouri in a plastic shopping bag.
Zapped by TSA x-rays and carried on the airplane. Stuffed under the seat for the flight to New England.
Planted in the ground in Connecticut.
A little bit of the midwest prairie blooming in my garden.
It is a cup plant, Silphium perfoliatum. I tried to grow them from seeds that we collected on a visit to a restored prairie in Wisconsin a few summers ago, but they didn't take. Then Becky dug one up from her garden in Kentucky and brought it to me when we met in St. Louis in May. A bumpy journey by car and plane for the sad little seedling, and I wasn't sure it would take. But it did.
Not the 8 foot tall tower that the prairie produces, this cup plant is about 5 feet tall in my New England garden. It rises tall and straight above the blooming clethra, kind of an odd combination from vastly different native habitats, but it's my garden and I can plant things that don't go together.
You can see why it is called cup plant: rain collects in the stem joints and makes a pool. A little cup of refreshment for the bees that swarm around the yellow blooms. Birds will drink from it too.
It's a fun plant: oddly out of place, sunnily happy, a drinking fountain of a plant, and it came from a friend's garden far away. I wonder if it tells the nearby clethra tales about the long car ride and plane trip it took to get here, and the sights it saw along the way?