Glory's Garden

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Plants do the oddest things when you're not looking



So, I had this plant and it did the oddest thing when I wasn't looking. First, I'll tell you about my beloved plant.

Lysmachia Alexander is its name. It grows about 2 1/2 feet tall with variegated leaves in cream, green and pink. Yes, all three colors! It is lovely just for the foliage, but it's stunning when in bloom. The bright yellow flowers grow all along the erect stems at every leaf juncture. It was one of my prized plants and I didn't even spend much money to have it. It came to me as a tiny bare root perennial from one of the many mail order places I frequented back when I started populating my gardens.


So, for a couple of years this plant grew well and got big. Big enough for me to divide it and "spread the love". I gave some to a friend and the rest I planted in other sections of the yard. Some in the back yard, some in the front and some on the side yard. They all grew well, but it took me a few years to see what it did. it reverted back to its all green, non-variegated self.

How the heck did it do that???

I have no clue, until I read somewhere, or was it on a garden show on HGTV? Don't quite recall. Anyway, they explained that variegated plants are actually mutations. Sometimes the mutation is desireable and sometimes not. In the case of Lysmachia Alexander it was very desirable. Unfortunately, in many cases, these mutations might not "take". That is to say, the plant knows that this trait is not supposed to be, so it will revert back to it's original normal look, like my Lysmachia Alexander did by turning back to full green leaves. Who knew?

Well, I've discovered that most newer species, genus and/or varieties of plants are from mutations, whether by nature or hybridizers trying for it, so this made perfect sense. Of course, that didn't mean I liked it! I loved my Lysmachia Alexander. Without the variegated leaves it was just a plain old Lysmachia with all the Alexander gone! What good was that? When those first spring leaves would emerge in a rainbow of color it was so pretty.  How lovely, how different, how unusual and how fleeting! Who knew?



Now I have to wait for the flowers to bloom for me to get excited about it. At least I thought this was the case. As I told you yesterday. I found Alexander hiding behind some massively growing goldenrod and wormwood right next to a Purple Loosestrife in the shrub border. It was just sitting there looking forlorn as anything. Well, I'm giving it a nice new home and I'm going to try like gangbusters to keep Alexander from reverting back to the plain green. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. The need to teach plants how to weed their own gardens. That would be a great genetic enhancement.

    ReplyDelete

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