September 19, 2006

New beginnings

As if to counteract my autumn melancholy, several of the inhabitants of my garden are reminding me that the slide toward winter is just setting up for next year's glories. Case in point: sundrops, which I have been known to call sunshine on a stick.

Sundrops have a slightly different modus operandi than most perennials. They rise from a basal rosette in the spring, and flower throughout May and June. So far, nothing exceptional. They spend the summer soaking up solar energy and then start sending out lateral roots that produce a fresh crop of basal rosettes in late summer, fall, and even throughout the winter. These are now popping up in various places throughout my flower beds.

Oenothera fruticosa
What makes them a bit different is that the mother plant will quite simply die away. No new rosette will emerge from its base; they will all emerge at a distance. Mind you, with other sundrops in the vicinity also sending out rhizomes, there's a good chance that new plants will take over the space anyway.

While sundrops are still in the rosette stage, they are very easy to pull up and move around. A rosette yanked by hand can be unceremoniously dumped in a small depression scooped out by hand, and recover quickly. They will pop up sometimes in places where you don't want them, but they're easily removed.

At this time of year, it cheers me to see something showing new life, so I just smile indulgently at them, as long as they're not infringing on the space of another perennial.

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2 comments:

Jennifer said...

I keep my sundrops in a pot. Do yours turn a lovely red in cold weather? I love the color in the garden.

Janet said...

Yes, the leaves do turn red when night temperatures drop. It doesn't even need to be frosty.

I might be potting up extras myself next year.