Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Life Of Joe Pye

Joe Pye's life is fraught with peril. An ideal appearance has been set. Standards must be met.

The recent immigrants from Faire Garden Tennessee are of the desired superior breeding. These fine Eupatorium purpureum 'Gateway' (confirmed by Frances) are settling in for their first full year and are expected to multiply and be shared over time.

Another batch of immigrants from Client # 1's fancy city garden are on their second year on the mountain. The dark red stems are apparent before the deep pink burgundy blooms confirm, yes this is the desired Joe Pye. Welcome to the garden.

The senior Joe Pye that existed here before the new fancy immigrants arrived grew large because it was far from the resident gardeners headquarters and because this one, one of the few, had a deeper pink hue to its late summer display. The queen of weeding and roundup has the final say in most of these matters. She was fond of Joe Pye and the dozens of butterflies and pollinators that swarm to the pink froth in the far reaches of the sunny utility meadow.

Others are not so lucky. The closer to headquarters you go, the paler Joe Pye got. This Joe Pye you see was Eupatorium fistulosum, a different breed. Standards were not being met. The ones down the road in the valley were much darker in bloom, a deep red velvety pink. The pale things up here, many near white, sucked.

Perhaps if an ocean of its near cousin, the pure white Ageratina altissima, formerly known as Eupatorium rugosum didn't lap at Joe Pye's feet, blooming en masse at the same time, the pale Joe Pye might have been spared.

A pink blush in bloom isn't enough. The few I managed to find escaped a spring and summer of ruthless yanking and spraying. Their cheerless pale faces now will give them away and they are bound to loose their heads before there is a chance to set seed.

And create more offspring even paler in appearance and meeker in the size of the bloom. Reverse evolution is a work. Only the invisible will be able to survive.

One can wonder how and why such standards are decided upon when many of the denizens of forest and meadow exhibit qualities of similar and lesser drama of bloom color and size. One can wonder, but why bother. It's personal.

The whitest of Joe Pye is toast. You have failed to meet standards.

Standards and appearances come into play in the realm of cabin construction too. Footings, posts and treads have accumulated on the grand staircase down to the basement patio.

The decking was placed on the lower landing and then we were screwed while trying to add the stringers for the steps between the two platforms. There really is no other way to say this. The 80 year old building contractor is showing signs of his age. He went to the store for screws and came back with the wrong kind and not enough. Again.

This puts me in an awkward emotional position. Anger will not be helpful. I need him and he needs to feel useful. He wants to stay active. It is a delicate, delicate balance with me ever more watchful and cautious.

Joe Pye in the meadow can easily get ensnared by the native and horribly invasive Clematis virginiana. It tries to gain favor by putting on a nice show. I am no longer fooled. Yanking and spraying awaits the clematis wherever it rears its tendrils.

Joe Pye is a tough old weed though and manages to rise high above the meadow. A fat healthy clump adorned with the few butterflies that have shown up this year. In the warm nights of the spare few weeks of true summer, high in the mountains the katydids sing.

Joe Pye says this is summer, real summer and it will be over soon.

What is Joe Pye up to this time of year?

It depends on which Joe you ask.


"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Much as I love alba anything, I have to agree that Frances' flowers from Faire Garden take the cake (or pie?)

Anonymous said...

Great post! I am with Bulbarella in her choices!
I know what you mean about your dad. I am going through something similar with my 87 year old mother only it's more advanced. Difficult decisions are having to be faced. Your time for that will come; right now there are still positive times to be enjoyed with your very talented parents. Even if it is a fur piece down the mountain to the hardware store - again. (:


Frances said...

Hi Christopher, funny, I linked to you today too. :-) Thanks my friend and glad to see that it is Gateway, I finally went back and looked up to see what mine was when you exclaimed that it was a darker purple and has a gigantic flower head than the species on the mountain. I bought it at a nursery in Kingsport in 2000. It does love to be spread and pays off with even bigger flower heads. Poor Contractor issues, you will have to be diplomatic and more of the contractor in charge yourself without letting feelings get hurt. Walking on eggshells. The grand staircase is quite the lookout perch it seems. I would spend many a moment on there as well, the view you know. :-)

Les said...

You are good people to be willing to work with your contractor that way.

Siria said...

Hello Christopher! What a great post! I love your Joe Pye Weed and I see them all over the mountains this time of year....except on my property. There was a gorgeous dark purple one growing in the middle of a cow field. I must find one of those to plant for myself.

One day, you will look back at the fortunate times you have spent with the Building Contractor and Resident Gardener these past few years. These are special times. I know how hard it can be because I have been down that road, and am still in the midst of caring for my ailing parents. Hang in there!

Christopher C. NC said...

Hi DP. Frances 'Gateway' Joe Pye is for sure the darkest of the bunch. Even darker than those from Client #1's though they are further along in bloom.

Bev, this is my warmup period for the times to come. I guess it is good to move into this gradual when there is still a lot of quality time left.

Frances thanks for the ID on the 'Gateway'. The stairs are now done hurray! The posts and railings can wait til September when I am on my own for the month. Now it is back to plumbing. It is an interesting dynamic when I try to take control from the contractor who has demanded control his entire life. He hovers and gives annoying helpful hints when I take over for even the most mundane things.

Les, bless you. I am fortunate to have an abundant supply of patience to test.

Siria, the dark dark purple is most likely the Ironweed, Vernonia noveboracensis. It is a late summer bloomer too. I can certainly give you seeds of both to toss out around your place. I think once the cabin is done, senior moments will be less of an issue until I become the caregiver which shouldn't be for several years at the soonest.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Two of my favorite plants! I must have at least 7-8 different joe pye cultivars, some pink, some rose, soem white, some blue. And my sweet autumn clematis isn't invasive--yet. This may be the nature of Nebraska, or the fact it's only 1.5 years old. But it's looking lovely on the arbor at this point, just getting some tiny buds.

Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog said...

I'm with you - off with the white heads! But those purple ones, very nice. Good luck with your patience. It must be tough.

Lola said...

I understand the sensitive situations at hand. Sadly I didn't get the chance to enjoy the company, tho rough at times, with my mother. I still miss her.
Now that I'm opening that gate I find that my oldest looses patience with me. He seems to have forgotten his critical time & who was always there.
Bless you for your patience. It will be rewarded. Dad & Mom need to be needed.