September 1, 2013
The farmer had restored several acres of tallgrass prairie on his farm, and he took us for a tour to show us what the original prairie looked like before farmers and settlers and civilization plowed it under or built over it.
One impressive plant he showed us was cup plant, Silphium perfoliatum.
It's a yellow daisy-like plant that grows quite tall, up to 8 feet.
It gets its common name from the cups of water that pool in the leaves around the square stems. Small birds and insects can drink from these puddles.
A few years later a friend gave me some cup plants that she had dug up. They survived a car trip from her garden in Kentucky, and I was happy to have a little bit of the Wisconsin / Kentucky original American tallgrass prairie growing in my New England garden.
But an 8 foot tall perennial was a little too big for my cultivated spaces. And then I started to read that cup plant is quite invasive here in Connecticut. So reluctantly, I took it out.
Well, here it is, growing in the unmowed meadow where I had tossed it when I took it out of my garden. It survived being chucked out with its roots in the air, and happily coexists with a stand of swamp milkweed.
I want to leave it to grow. After all, it reminds me of the trip we took to Wisconsin, a nostalgia tour to places my sister and I had gone to as children. And it reminds me of my good friend in Kentucky, a gardener who shares plants and so much more with me.
But will this be a mistake? Will growing an invasive plant in an unmowed area be a garden oops, or GOOPs as Joene calls them?
On the first of the month Joene sponsors GOOPs, where we post about mistakes we have made in the garden. You can visit her blog for more.
How can this be an oops? It's a native plant, a remnant of the bygone American wild prairie. It has strong family and friend connections for me. It's pretty.
It's also supposedly invasive here. Will I regret letting it go wild in my meadow?