Veronicastrum skirts one half of the pollinator garden
As Lynn and I tramp the gardens, one question we sometimes ask each other is, “What’s the
name of that plant anyway?” It can be a plant that we know and love and have cared for and
admire but—just at the moment—its name is elusive.
Clethra, or Summersweet in blossom and below, completely upstaged by showy Filipendula
“What’s that one, Lynn?” I ask as we walk about.
“Clethra,” she says.
“Clethra, you know, Summersweet,” she says, with just a touch of impatience.
“Oh yes, of course, Summersweet. My, it’s blooming earlier than usual this year. It must be
Veronicastrum is one of our favourite plants, a sentiment shared by pollinators of all strips and colours
We move on to the Pollinator Garden and examine beautiful tall pillars of tiny pink flowers.
“Before you ask,” says Lynn, “it’s Veronicastrum.”
“I knew that Lynn. Also known as Culver’s root. And I bet you didn’t know that it’s named after
Dr. Coulvert who discovered the plant’s laxative properties. Look at all the bees.”
Lynn looked at me strangely.
“And,” I say, “it’s particularly beautiful swaying in the wind.”
He says California Privet, I say Ligustrum
“That one?” I ask.
“I’m not sure,” she says.
I take a picture of it using a plant identifying app (Picture This—highly recommended) on my
smartphone. “California privet, or, to you, Lynn, Ligustrum. And this app tells me that it’s from
Japan and was brought to the United States in 1945. And there’s a poem: ‘Garden places I shall
tend,/For a welcome to a friend,/Make for him a roomy seat/By the box and privet sweet.’”
California Fescue with Eryngeum
“I like that grass,” I say. We’re still in the Pollinator Garden. “I hadn’t really noticed it before.
What is it?”
“Festuca,” says Lynn.
I checked the app. “More precisely, “ I said, “it’s California fescue.”
“More California,” said Lynn.
The app gives me a Fescue poem, by Tennyson no less. “Thenceforward oft from out a despot
dream/The father panting woke, and oft, as dawn/Aroused the black republic on his
elms,/Sweeping the froth-fly from the fescue brushed…”
Top; Eastern Bottlebrush grass, a species of Couch Grass I can actually love and below, Spike Bentgrass which we’ve let take over the verge, along with vetch, knapweed and oxeye daisy
And then there was the Narrow-leaf blue-eyed grass in the wildflower meadow. Lynn knew that
one (I was impressed); not me. I looked it up on the app, and it has a poem too, by Mary Austin:
Blue-eyed grass in the meadow,
And the laden bee’s low hum,
Milkweeds all by the roadside,
To tell us summer is come.
The last of this seasons Blue-eyed Grass