A couple years ago I did something a little careless in the garden. My intent was to move a couple of plants from the Crabapple Bed to the Parkway Bed. However, I failed to carefully examine the shovel full of roots that I carried from bed to bed. If I had, I might have noticed some bits of Starry Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum stellatum) rhizome (an underground horizontal stem used by some plants to attempt world domination).
You see where this is going, I’m sure. Cut to the present day, and those bits of rhizome have spread to lay claim to a substantial portion of the Parkway Bed. Not that this is a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I was planning.
But I do really like Starry Solomon’s Plume. It’s compact, tough and likes shade. Spikes of tiny white flowers in spring, attractive berries in fall, and glossy foliage throughout the season. Another common name, Starry False Lily-of-the-Valley, gives you a good sense of the plant. I like it better than its larger cousin, Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum racemosa), which tends to flop in late summer, spoiling the effect of its red berries.
The one negative thing about the arrival of Starry Solomon’s Plume in the Parkway Bed is that it is starting to displace the Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum).
Wild Geranium is another beloved spring wildflower for shade. In the garden here we have the regular species with its lavender blooms but also the naturally occurring variety ‘album’ which has white flowers. Wild Geranium is a rugged plant that will regenerate quickly from rhizome fragments, as I learned when I tried to dig it out of the Sidewalk Border.
In addition to spreading by rhizome, Wild Geranium seed capsules actually expel their seeds several feet from the parent plant. This explains why I have clumps of Wild Geranium throughout the garden. So even if the worst comes to pass in the Parkway Bed, I am not going to run out of Wild Geranium. In our garden, Starry Solomon’s Plume does not seem to spread much by seed, and seems unable to cross barriers like sidewalks without human assistance, intentional or otherwise.
But while Wild Geranium may have to give up some ground in the Parkway Bed, I would be surprised if it were pushed out altogether. Like Starry Solomon’s Plume, it is a tough plant.
This experience taught me once again that you have to let the plants determine, to some extent, what goes where in the garden. Otherwise, you’d better get used to a heck of a lot more work.
Have you ever unintentionally introduced a new plant into a bed or border, and were you happy with the results?