Posts Tagged ‘Joe Pye weed’


We enjoyed a pleasant weekend, but Monday and Tuesday have been overcast and drizzly. On the plus side, flowers can really shine on a dull day. While even bright flowers sometimes look washed out under intense sun, on gray days they make their own glow. Here are a few of the flowers that caught my eye today.

Pictured above are the small orange flowers of jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). It’s a native that grows quite vigorously in damp areas around here. It seeds about in the garden and I mostly pull it out, but left this one plant because jewelweed is loved by hummingbirds.


I usually plant a few annuals each spring, and by late in the summer, when the garden begins to look a bit tired, they add a boost of colour. Lavatera ‘Silver Cup’ is a pretty, clear pink. For brilliance, though, it is hard to beat zinnias.




The rudbeckias are reliable late-summer bloomers. This is rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’. You can just make out a little yellow flower crab spider near the centre of the photo.


A few late daylilies are opening the last of their flowers. Wild Child (Salter 2002) was new this year and I enjoyed its colourful blooms. I was sad to see its last flower today, a bit bedraggled by the rain.


Golden Tycoon still has a few buds left and stands up well to the rain.


The angelica (Angelica gigas) is just coming into bloom and is very popular with bumblebees.


My Lemon Queen sunflower (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’) is also just starting her show and will soon be attracting crowds of bees.


Here are the leaves of annual coleus competing with the flowers for attention.


This echinacea, ‘Now Cheesier’ struggled last year. I moved it this spring and it is doing better in its new location.


Finally, here’s a garden variety of a native wildflower, Joe Pye Weed. This is Eupatorium ‘Phantom’.


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The garden is beginning to wind down from the height of its July glory into its autumnal display. It is still attracting plenty of visitors. When I walked through the garden this weekend, it was alive with butterflies. The summer drought has made for a difficult growing season, but it seems to have been good for butterflies. There were white Cabbage butterflies and some Monarchs and Viceroys, but mostly there were Painted Ladies. Every flower was decorated with one of these beauties and I couldn’t resist photographing a sampling to share here.


Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) are cosmopolitans. They can be found across the continent and throughout much of the world. Their huge range includes Europe, Asia and Africa as well as North America.


They are not winter-hardy, and most northern residents perish. In the spring, Painted Ladies from southern areas and Mexico fly north on warm spring breezes and recolonize much of North America by summer.


Painted Ladies nectar at a wide variety of plants, but particularly enjoy thisles. They are also adaptable in their choice of host plants for young caterpillars.


Here is a selection of photographs of Painted Ladies visiting Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum), Persicaria polymorpha, Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstonne”, hydrangea, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum, and Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp).






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Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp.) is fairly common and little stands can be spotted in damp areas here and there along the local rural roads at this time of year. My favorite place to see Joe Pye, though, is along a stream a few miles from here. You can stop your car on the quiet road, and from the bridge that crosses the stream you can look up and down the river and see big thickets of Joe Pye following the flow of the water.

Joe Pye likes the middle ground, the space between the water-loving cattails and the open meadow goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace. The flower heads are a soft pinkish-purple, a gentler shade than the bright purple loosestrife that has invaded wetlands in recent years. The flowers are born in clusters at the tops of tall stems, with the fuzzy-looking blooms opening a few at a time.

Joe Pyes are big plants, and in ideal circumstances, it is said that they may reach 7 feet tall. The ones I see around here are mostly about 5 feet. The narrow, toothed leaves grow in a whorl around the stem, maximizing the sunlight each leaf receives.

The plant has long been used by herbalists and native peoples as a diuretic to treat urinary ailments. Oral tradition holds that a man named Joe Pye, now lost in the mists of time, used a concoction made from the plant to treat typhus fever. The scientific name, Eupatorium, is for another healer, the first-century Mithradates IV Eupator, king of Pontus (the southern Black Sea area), who legend holds used the plant to treat patients. Or maybe himself. Apparently, the King was something of a poisons expert. Not sure where Joe Pye entered into that.

There are a number of cultivars of eupatorium available for the garden. I used to have a variety called Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’. This plant features purplish-brown leaves and white flowers, quite attractive. This spring, I added Eupatorium ‘Phantom’, pictured above and below, to my garden. It looks very pretty with the phlox and coneflowers growing nearby. Phantom is shorter than many eupatoriums at 3 to 4 feet tall. Joe Pye is said to be very attractive to Tiger Swallowtails and fritillary butterflies, but I have yet to spot any visiting. The bees like it though.

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