June 28, 2006

Sunshine on a stick

Oenathera frutticosaThat's what I sometimes call my sundrops aka evening primrose. I personally hate the name "evening primrose", which the whole genus Oenothera has been saddled with because of the one or two species that actually open at night. My neighbours have Oenothera acaulis, which unfurls at dusk in a dramatic display that is over in less than a minute. Sundrops, on the other hand, close up at night, so evening primrose is the height of nonsense in the nomenclature department. Sundrops it is.

Sundrops have been accused of being invasive, a label which Oenothera missouriensis apparently deserves. These however are O. fruticosa, and while they spread enthusiastically, they are easy to control. When a clump has covered the amount of space I want it to occupy, I remove a full outer ring after they've bloomed. Just before winter, I'll pull out any I find excessive. In early spring, I'll again tug out any that are out of place and sometimes move them to an empty spot to let them flower before I pull them up for good. This is not nearly as much work as it sounds like; the roots are very superficial and a quick tug on a rosette takes care of it. They are very tough too; those weeded out by hand can be planted elsewhere without missing a beat. Once they send up the flower stalks it's trickier though. The stalks are brittle and will often break, so any moving is better done early or late in the season.

These ones are in their full glory right now, although they are poorly positioned in a corner that is too crowded. The garden editor will be working on it soon, but I'm going to let the sundrops have their day first.

All in all, I love these cheery, unpretentious little garden stalwarts who will accept a wide variety of conditions without complaining. I'm willing to do a little tugging for the pleasure of their presence. And an added advantage of sundrops is that they will irritate any gardening snobs in the vicinity, who have declared war on yellow flowers. Unless, of course, they're echinaceas...

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Sigrun said...

Janet, a nice photo. This Oenothera I have also, you know.


GardenJoy3 said...

U also have this variety plus the prostrate ones that have those really interesting seed pods when the flowers die down .. can't remeber the name but also a nice bright shot of yellow in the garden !

GardenJoy3 said...
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GardenJoy3 said...

My apologies Janet .. I should put my glasses on when I do this first thing in the morning .. sigh !