Like Rugs, They Lie

By June 1, 2012 plants 4 Comments

So last year, I planted a cultivar of Agastache foeniculum, called “Snow Spike.” It has white flowers. Pollinators like it. (A. foeniculum, for the record, is our native giant blue hyssop, growing up to five feet tall.)

I have looked through various grower information, and it’s either 18″, 24″, 36″ or 40″ tall, depending on who you ask, lauded for its extremely good behavior, compact form, and general elegance by gardening sites the web over.

I would like to register the following objection.

At the time of this writing, “Snow Spike” is eight feet tall. I had to lash its somewhat smaller brother (a mere five and a half feet!) to a trellis, since it was leaning into the walkway, but the eight-footer is as upright and sturdy as a sequoia. There is no legginess, no phototropic lean towards the sun. It is the tallest thing in the back garden. The crabapple I planted last fall doesn’t even compete. The ginormous tomatoes top out at six feet. You have to get out of the flowerbeds and into the treeline before you find taller members of the plant kingdom, and when you do, it’s an oak tree.

Now, my original plant did not actually survive the winter, but it reseeded with the enthusiasm of an Old Testament patriarch and I have been yanking babies out of my vegetable bed and cracks in the walkway for weeks. (None of them actually landed in the flowerbed where they would be welcome, naturally.) This is one of those babies. I left several in the tiny little corner bed between the house and the sidewalk, where it receives brutal sun and not that much rain. It presumably goes without saying that I cannot be arsed to water it. It is just coming in to flower now. I fear it.

The other various Agastaches in the front yard, meanwhile, are all being well-behaved normal plants five feet tall and bringing in lots of bees and generally acting like the plant labels said they would. Apparently “Snow Spike” did not get the memo about it’s compactness.. I like a monstrous structural perennial as much as the next person, but I like to be warned in advance, so I can plant them in a space more than a foot wide where they will not systematical devour my nasturtiums.  (Is it possible that I have, through some peculiar hazard of genes, acquired an enormous mutant? Hmm. Maybe I should save those seeds. If it bred true, I would name it “Yeti.”)

So. Quite a plant. Little frightening. Plant with caution.


  • Fiona says:

    Photos or it doesn’t exist!!! 🙂

  • Ellis says:

    Two years ago I went to the green house with my daughter and she found this lovely little plant in a 4 inch pot. It was soft green-gray and the leaves are soft and fuzzy. It’s called appropriately enough Lamb’s Ear. The leaves do look like little fuzzy ears. And she wanted it. So stupid Mum buys it. Put’s it in. Year one it sits there and looks pretty and pops out half a dozen new leaves and lulls me into submission with it’s quaint prettiness.

    Year two. The blitzkrieg begins. Luckily it was hemmed in by some concrete blocks so it didn’t take over the entire front bed but that was the only thing that stopped it. Then it shoots up 3 foot stems that are covered in little tiny purple flowers. Which it turns out the bees LOVE.

    So I can’t napalm the stupid thing like I would like too because we don’t have an abundance of bees in our area and I want to encourage them. But now you can’t see anything else in the front bed because Lamb’s Ear is a stage hog and stands in front of all the other plants and goes look at me, just at me!

    So then I look it up on the internet (a case of much too little too late) and find it listed in the “aggressive growers” area. Thanks so bloody much Golden Acres Garden Centre for telling me that BEFORE I bought it.

    But, again, the bees LOVE it. So I split it up, have tried to seclude it in certain areas of the yard and let it go. It not only over wintered it grew back, aggressively of course, in ever single spot I put it in.

    I think it’s planning a take over. Be afraid peonies, be very afraid……..

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