Thursday, July 30, 2015

Zombies in the Garden

Anise-scented sage (Salvia guaranitica) - it's....back from the DEAD!!

I think zombies get a bad rap.

Well, garden zombies that is!

I'm talking about those plants that you try to kill. You get so frustrated with their underperformance (or in some cases their exuberance) that you rip them from the ground, tear them limb from limb, cut off their heads and put a metaphorical stake through their roots/hearts.

I guess weeds would often qualify as zombie plants, but here I'm talking about a couple of gentler souls that I tried to evict from the garden, but which have won my grudging respect and admiration from the way they miraculously reappeared.

Salvia guaranitica (anise-scented sage) is native to South America (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay). I planted it for its stunning dark blue flowers and its reported ability to attract and support butterflies and hummingbirds.

But it was very pouty and wilty last year, so I got fed up and shovel-pruned it.

....or so I thought!

But a month or two ago, I saw some familiar-looking foliage popping up in the same spot where S. guaranitica lived last year. Yep, it was back! And strangely, it seems a bit heartier and stronger than before, blooming through the past few weeks of miserably hot, humid weather without even a whimper.

I mean, once you've pulled a Lazarus, I guess everything else is a piece of cake!

(I will note that S. guaranitica is often only rated as hardy to USDA zone 8, whereas I garden on the zone 6/7 border, so we're talking about a plant that defies death in multiple ways!)

The other dearly-not-so-departed plant to make a surprise return to the garden stage is Callicarpa americana, American beautyberry.

You can't keep a good beautyberry down...

I have to admit I was feeling a bit guilty about ripping American beautyberry from the garden last winter, but again it had been a chronic underperformer. It just about croaked when I planted it in full sun originally, and even after I moved it to a partial shade spot in the front border, it seemed awfully delicate and wishy-washy.

But it is a Southeastern native and it does reportedly provide good food for the birds (with its bright purple berries) so I'm glad to find this zombie back in the garden.

And as with the S. guaranitica, beautyberry actually seems much stronger and healthier this time around!  (I suppose with the beautyberry, there's a possibility that I'm actually seeing a seedling rather than the original plant, in which case it could make sense that the seedling is better adapted to its environment than a transplant...)

Have you ever had any (desirable) plants in your garden come back from the dead? And did you welcome these 'zombies' when they showed up?

(Hey, at least they're not asking for brains!!) ;-)

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