Joe Pye and friends

In recent years, native Joe Pye weeds (Eutrochium purpureum, formerly known as Eupatorium) and a patch of cattails have invaded the perimeter of the koi pond, lending additional wildness to this untamed water feature. Long ago I would float and sometimes snooze on the pond, but then Northern Brown water snakes took up residence along with the many dozens of koi, goldfish and frogs. While the garden’s snakes are cautious to avoid confrontation, the occasional meet results in jumps in opposite directions.

A handful of compact growing Joe Pye weeds (‘Little Joe’, above) have been planted near the pond in the rear garden, but in the pond natives that arrived on the wind from nearby wetlands tower over irises growing in the shallow margins. The combination is workable, with Japanese and yellow flag irises finishing their show long before the Joe Pyes become prominent.

Today, the pond’s small waterfall is seen and not heard. It is overgrown by irises and arching branches of winter jasmine that must be pruned annually, but not this year with a yellow flowered passionflower vine (Passiflora lutea, below) spreading in every direction, and over oakleaf and lacecap hydrangeas to block access. The small flowered passionflower was mistakenly planted too far into this jungle to enjoy the blooms close up. I should propagate cuttings to plant where they are more easily seen, but I am too often negligent in caring for seedlings and cuttings.

Other structures are overrun by vines, so there is no obvious place for the native passionflower, but that rarely is an excuse for not planting. The columns and roof of the summerhouse beside the pond are edged with a slightly tender passionflower vine, and on the far side with a yellow leafed silver lace vine (Fallopia baldschuanica ‘Lemon Lace’, below). I’m told that the yellow foliage will stunt growth to make the silver lace more manageable. In its second year, so far so good, but I keep snipping to keep the vine headed in the proper direction.

The silver lace vine flowering in late September a year ago.

The paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha, below) have taken another leap in growth this summer. A year after several showed unhappiness with excess moisture, they have spread another foot or more in all directions. One is twenty feet across, and two others close behind. This winter all will require a bit of chopping, but possibly the one that borders the pond might overwhelm the winter jasmine to eliminate this maintenance chore.

Two seedling panicled hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata, below), the offspring of a huge ‘Tardiva’ in the background of the pond, must be severely chopped each winter. These flower on the spring’s growth, so there are fewer flowers on fewer stems, but if not for the pruning these could push out the wide spreading oakleaf hydrangea that overhangs the pond’s edge.

As a result of too many fish and accumulated debris and silt that is constantly agitated, the koi pond has turned the somewhat murky shade of so many local farm ponds. Certainly, I could empty and clean it annually, but the water now matches the barely managed wildness of the surrounding plantings.

One Comment Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Oh, I still lack Joe Pye weed. Oh, the shame! I had intended to get it this year, but still lack a permanent garden, and would not have been able to work in it anyway

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