Thursday, September 25, 2008

Grass-leafed golden aster, Narrow-leafed Silkgrass: I never heard it called any of those names

Sometimes you just like a plant; I like Pityopsis. I like it a lot. It has virtues, it's tough and blooms late in the season. The silvery-green foliage is reason enough to grow it. Reseeding dependably but not intrusively, it is native to the Coastal Plain from Maryland through Florida and along the Gulf Coast to Texas.

Actually, not limited to the coastal plain, it climbs into the mountains. We saw it on sunny roadsides in North Carolina on the Shortia trip. Even in the Okefenokee Swamp it grows around the elevated bases of Longleaf Pines. You see it everywhere in its range where there is dry soil and sun.

In the garden it is a good companion for what I call the "hard" herbs, the ones that like heat and drought and relatively infertile soil; rosemary, sage, thyme, germander, and their ilk are complemented by the silver vertical foliage. Yes, the flowers are a brassy yellow gold but they don't look like dandelions, actually they look like hawkweeds, another of my favorite plants. The essence of this plant though has nothing to do with flowers. The silky silver of the linear leaves creates a unique texture that add something special to any xeric sunny planting. But still, I seem to value it as more than the sum of its virtues. Sometimes you just like a plant.

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