Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Taurus' and Schizachyrium scoparium, 'The Blues' Little Bluestem
Ahhh, the lovely, indispensable (and unfortunately named) knotweed, Persicaria.
Growing up in the midwest, we actually had knotweed growing in shady portions of our garden, amongst the hostas and (shudder) bishops weed. It was small, spindly and not much to look at, with little pink bottlebrush blossoms and, I'll admit, a weedy demeanor. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a host of garden-worthy varieties already being used (mostly in Europe). Who knows who it was that first started championing them, but I first noticed them in the plantings of Piet Oudoulf (my hero!). He used them to great effect, in large swaths, as edgers, and mixed in with other wild-looking plants like Rattlesnake Master, Sanguisorbia and Eupatorium. I don't think I really even liked them at first, even then...they reminded me too much of the weed I'd battled in a previous life. I've warmed up to them considerably, however, and now love them, in almost every form they offer!
As if all this wasn't enough, it's also really easy to propagate! Earlier this summer, I accidentally snapped a few stems off as I was weeding, and decided there was nothing to lose, so I stuck them in a glass of water. Below, you can see them a month later, they started sending out roots after only 3 days! I decided once it started sending out new leaves underwater, it was time to plant them in the garden. Below, right, is the newly-planted 'Red Dragon' cutting. I've recently noticed a few self-sown seedlings of the same plant in the garden...although, now that I know how easily cuttings root, these seedlings could just be parts of stems that have fallen on the ground and rooted.
So, there you have it...Knotweed, aka Persicarias. They are tough, vigorous, and dare I say it, even a little whimsical...a tall order for any plant. A side note, Persicarias really haven't caught on in my area yet, and as such, are relatively hard to find in local nurseries. Luckily, I found them this spring at one of my favorite nurserieies, Joy Creek Nursery, in Scappoose, OR.
I leave you with a shot of an actual knotweed in my parking strip! It's true, just the other day, I realized I did have a "weedy" knotweed right here in my garden. It's tiny, only a few inches high, but has survived all summer and is now flower...I might even dig it up and move it into the garden...how charming would it be in front of 'Taurus'! These plants may be weeds to some, but I wouldn't be without them!