I’ve been trying to get my head round Eupatoriums, which I see (and ignore) have become Eutrochium.
Well, some of them have. Some have become something else. Some might be Ageratina. Ask Ben. There are at least three which I love and want more more more of. And one that I feel very ambivalent about, which I get, willy nilly, more more more of. On the other hand, please note, I am not totally confident what some of mine are. But the one I have too much of is, I believe, otherwise known in the UK as Hemp agrimony.
It’s a Very Good plant because it is a British native, much loved by all those invertebrates we love so dearly (do we love stingy wasps??) and it’s true that I see much buzzing around on them. It’s a bit washed out in colour and rather large, though if I remember to cut it down earlier in the year it’s not too bad. But I’ve had enough of its seeding and in an effort to stop that I have asked Angus to cut off all the flowers. Angus ought perhaps to be called the Incredible Help, since he bombs through work in the garden on his one day a week doing the work of multitudes. Like planting five hundred and fifteen bulbs today, then cutting down and removing enormous numbers of eupatoriums. (You can see Angus on this post)
But I love my perhaps very best Eupatorium find – Eupatorium cannabinum ‘Flore Pleno’.
I originally bought it, sight unseen, because the great British plantsman, Bob Brown, wrote: “(Double hemp agrimony.) Solid powder pink flower heads Jul-Sep, 1m. Easy. Lovely planted near roses. All the stamens that make the single flower grey have changed to pink.”
I planted one with my roses, Rosa Felicia, in a bed which actually gets taken over in late summer by Japanese anemones (now Eriocapitella hupehensis apparently. Good luck with that) and I just love the result. See here. The eupatorium is a beautiful deep rosy pink, and high enough to appear above the anemones and enhance their paler pink.
I ordered half a dozen more, as you do. One of which turned out to be suspiciously paler. Which I took up with the supplier of that particular one, who replied “No, ours is Eupatorium cannabinum. They are however so similar that I decided it wasn’t worth selling Flore Pleno.” Well, he’s wrong, that one had to come out and I was not pleased. Perennials take a long time to show what they are, and if they’re wrong, they are taking the time and space of the right one.
However, I just about have them backing up the anemones right through the border now. Almost. And they and the rest of that bed give me great pleasure at this time of year.
Then there’s the wonderful deep purple one, which could be Eupatorium maculatum ‘Riesenschirm’
or maybe Eupatorium maculatum (Atropurpureum Group). Or something else entirely, of course.
If you want to know the possible difference try here. These are the ones I wish would seed. Graham Stuart Thomas says ‘It will outshine most flowers in September and October, and is a superb companion for the Hybrid Musk rose ‘Vanity’ and Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora'”, which is a possibility I have not availed myself of, but you might.
Christopher Lloyd says that this one is “North American, best known to them as Joe Pye-Weed, which, as a well-known native, they naturally despise.” How things have changed, eh? Piet Oudolf appreciates their “architectural quality, emphasised by their foliage and umbel like heads of softly coloured flowers.”
Potentially six feet high, but before you rush out with sticks and string, I note that Noel Kingsbury, the great ‘what happens underground’ man, says that “splitting one of these involves hacking your way through a massive radial root system – which takes a few years to build up, and is clearly a solution to how to stop 3m high plants from falling over. It is quite unlike anything you will find in any other perennial.”
There is a smaller version of this, apparently, called ‘Purple Bush,’ though one of our prominent nurseries sells it and suggest it grows to seven and a quarter feet, which is not exactly miniscule. Maybe Crocus are wrong? ! ?
So perhaps it’s not strange that I usually feel rather confused about eupatoriums.
Piet Oudolf lists several I’ve never heard of. There is a Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ but I know it not. I do, however, possess an apparent rarity – Eupatorium rugosum ‘Braunlaub’. I fell in love with this – the flowers are pure white.
In spite of my unusually careful care and watchful eye, it didn’t thrive, so I moved it and it’s alive and flowering as I write.
But it’s no longer available for sale anywhere that I can see, and it’s miffiness may be why. I hope I can manage to keep it. And that that wonderful deep purple one learns how to seed around.
Don’t be put off growing the cultivated ones by my confusions about them. Not unless you mustn’t for some American reason. They like damp, so Marianne may forgo.
You can see some of my confusion here – these are at different stages – are they all the same one? And you can just spot one the left how they can look manky when they’re going over.
A botanist could help us out. They’ll be hard to buy in flower, being so big. But I wouldn’t be without any of them.