In the family: Lies I Told My Little Sister
Book Bullet: A Year in The Life of Beth Chatto’s Gardens by Rachel Warne

Does this make me a bad person?

LysichitonCamtsch900Not long after we moved to Pennsylvania, I planted two plants at the edge of the little creek that flows through the corner of our property. It was all a bit bare, and I thought some quietly colourful plants would brighten things up.

One that I planted was Lysichiton camtschatcensis. This is the white flowered Russian version of the yellow flowered American native Lysichiton americanum. As the name indicates, it comes from the Kamchatka Peninsula, just across the narrow Bering Strait from Alaska. Sarah Palin must have had a good view.

For the first few years, all that happened was that the plant slowly - very slowly - became larger. Then it produced a single white flower, and as far as I could tell the seed head was eaten by deer. Then there were two flowers, then, ten years after planting, this year three lovely white flowers appeared. But the point is that a few yards farther down the stream a second plant flowered this year, as you can see in the background in the picture (click to enlarge).

So it’s started to spread down the stream. Some seed must have escaped the deer and germinated and the resulting plant has now reached flowering size. I have to say that I was very pleased to see that some seed had escaped the deer.

But. So. Here’s the thing. Should I rip them all out to ensure that this non-native plant does not continue its spread downstream? Should I watch and wait and see what happens? Or should I just not worry about it, and simply admire them? I’m planning to watch and wait but not tear them out – does that make me a bad person? Should I playDarmera-peltata-_G010731 safe, and just dig it all out?

Oh, yes, the other plant I put alongside the stream was Darmera peltata ‘Nana’, the dwarf form of what used to be called Peltiphyllum peltatum, with clusters of pink flowers in spring and wine red fall foliage. It grew well for the first half of the first season - then the deer ate it and I never saw it again. So no chance of that spreading.