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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – September 5

Most gardeners in this area would be interested if I described a perennial that is tall and dramatic with pink stems that are so strong there’s no need for staking. This plant has bright green foliage that’s untroubled by insects or diseases, and white flowers that develop into showy black berries. Oh yes, this perennial is drought tolerant and the birds like the fruit.

Ironically these same gardeners are pulling this plant out of their gardens every year. I’ve described the pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, a common weed in this region…but what a handsome, and garden worthy, plant.

This happens in reverse as any reader of plant catalogs will attest. You read a description that makes a particular plant sound fantastic, but once it’s in the garden you realize that it’s really quite undesirable. And if it looks like a weed and behaves like a weed, it’s not welcome in the garden.

If any plant is in the wrong location, pull it out. If it’s an attractive plant that performs well, however, it isn’t a weed.

You do need a large garden, or the right location for this plant. Most of my prime specimens are 6 or more feet high.

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