The garden tour committee came around to inspect our garden this week. We spent a very pleasant hour together, and they were able to answer some of my questions:
“And this?” “Sorrel. You can eat it.” (Great, salad greens that grow wild.)
And then, later, while walking along the road, I met my friend, who was pulling her hair out over the weeds she was tugging. “This Japanese Knotweed comes from across the street. All I can do is pull it out, and leave it to die and dry out. You can’t ever get rid of it. It grows through concrete.” I was reminded that I heard about this scourge a couple of years ago. The weed that is stronger than concrete.
It was emerging from the gravel in a suspicious attitude. In my visual memory, its segmented emergence looked eerily similar to my mystery weed in the dye garden. I hurried home to dig it all out as fast as I could.
Fortunately, I got distracted by general tidying-up in the dye garden. First planted three years ago, it appeared to me that it’s going to be amazing this year. The tansy that I got from the ditch across the street is already lush and green.
For some reason, deer and slugs don’t like it. In fact, of all the dye plants and medicinals, only my sumac tree seems to be highly attractive to deer, and only the woad (blue dye) and marigolds are attractive to slugs, and they’re so prolific that I am happy to share them with the ruminants and gastropods.
Even the elecampane, which is both a medicinal and a dye plant, is growing for the first time this year. We keep seeding these plants, but finally, something germinated, a year later. All in its own time. It grows to four or five feet tall.
As I was about to dig out the highly invasive knotweed in my dye garden, I cunningly observed that the evil clumps were located right beside the sticks and rebar I had used to prop up the indigo last year. The light was dawning in my head. I unfurled a couple of the tightly-clamped leaves at the tip. What, what, what???? I think this is Indigofera tinctorium! I had absolutely no idea this plant was a perennial in this climate. It hails from ancient India, although all continents in the southern hemisphere grow it now.
A huge mistake was averted. And I am so relieved that it’s not knotweed. And so excited that the indigo will be awesome this year!
I have plans to include a sowing of Japanese Indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) too. My friend gifted me seeds from her indigo garden. Of the 100 seeds I planted and placed for several weeks on a germination hot mat, only eleven valuable seedlings resulted.
I just want to point out that good plants come from Japan, too.