Plant of the Month
Fleece Flower or Himalayan Knotweed
Location: Grid V-4 east side of the east side gravel road, just south of the kiosk
This seems to be a great choice for a groundcover in Moscow. I rooted cuttings of this plant that I got from an Arboretum Associates Board member in January 2020. They rooted easily and grew rapidly enough that they were ready to plant out in June 2020 (just a little over a year ago).
We planted 52 of them about a foot apart on a steep slope just south of the kiosk on June 2, 2020. I think they all survived and thrived and in just over a year have almost formed a solid mat. They flower with upright spikes of pink flowers that start in mid-summer and continue until frost in the fall. We planted two new cultivars of Butterfly Bushes above the Fleece Flower, and the combination makes for nice late summer color.
The foliage is ‘semi-evergreen’ in our climate, which meant that it looked good for most of the winter last year, started to look a little ragged before the new growth started in the Spring, but only for a short time. Perhaps the best news is that it only spreads by stems above ground, so it is easy to control and won’t spread aggressively where we do not want it to go.
We finally got some measurable rain last week and now the weather feels like fall, with highs only in the 70’s and best of all clear air! I love it—much more pleasant working outside now then it was with highs in the 90’s and heavy smoke.
August at the U of I means back to classes, so my crew shrank dramatically this week.
Of all of the maintenance jobs we do in the Arboretum, I am pretty sure the one that gets the most notice from casual visitors is mulching shrub beds with new bark; or chipping the paths with cedar chips. Unfortunately, those tasks often seem to get pushed down the ‘to-do’ list by more pressing needs, like 4’ tall thistles or broken trees, or by routine maintenance like mowing and irrigation system challenges.
We have been able to get a few beds mulched this summer and we have started re-chipping the paths. Hopefully we will get the most heavily used paths chipped before fall rains come along and make them muddy and slippery.
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