Tuesday, January 18, 2011
O, The Wormwood and the Gall
Artemisia 'Powis Castle' in summer
Artemisia, once referred to as wormwood, is a varied family of mostly silver-leaved herbs, many of which are great garden plants. Growing up, my mother adored 'Silver Mound', unfortunately for her, so did our cats. Without fail, ever summer as they reached the peak of their beauty, our cats would have a slumber party on them, smashing them flat and ruining their look for the rest of the season. Sharing the same silvery-green color, but much, much larger, is 'Powis Castle'. Its size seems to vary, depending on its growing conditions, in my garden, it gets 2-3' tall, and spreads to at least 6'.
Here it is last fall, as you can see, it looks pretty healthy and has a good spread. However, if you look at the upper portion, above the crown, you can see all the bare stems. As fall wore on, it became worse and worse, after the 2nd frost this winter, it seemed to lose almost all its foliage and collapsed.
Yikes, as you can see from the above photo, taken 1-17-2011, it looks a bit sad. Ryan Miller, of gnomiscience, and I have been having a conversation about what is the best time and procedure for pruning this puppy. From what I've gathered, the best time to prune is in early spring, just before, or as it starts growing.
You want to cut back any dead and broken stems, but leave plenty of buds (like the above), as the plant will apparently not sprout from the woodier portions of it's stem. I'm thinking February will be a good time to try it out, as its still a bit early (depsite some signs of growth). Wish me luck...do you have any experience with 'Powis Castle'? What do you do when it needs pruning?
Ryan Miller and I have each been claiming that OUR 'Powis Castle' is definitely the ugliest at the moment...what do you think...whose is worse?!? Please, don't worry about hurting our feelings :-) Here's his post on the subject.