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Golden Rod

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Yellow flowering plant.

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      12.01.2011 12:19
      Very helpful



      Attractive, easy-growing, unfussy garden staple

      Solidago or goldenrod is a naturalized weed in some parts of the country. I know of one large bank of it out in the countryside - near an isolated lay-by, so it probably arose from someone dumping garden rubbish - that covers a stretch of roadside verge maybe 20 feet long by half as long wide. This tells you a few things about the plant: firstly that it'll spread out along the ground to for great, uniform, goldenrod 'beds,' secondly that people often try to get rid of it from gardens, and lastly that goldenrod isn't particularly fussy as to its habitat requirements.

      I was specifically looking for garden plants that are not fussy about the soil they grow in, as the soil in our front garden is in very poor condition, having been under gravel (installed by the house's previous owner) for at least the last 10 years. There's almost no top-soil layer, and underneath are great lumps of sticky clay - so trying to grow any particularly finicky plants in these conditions would be out of the question.

      Goldenrod is a perennial plant which means it pretty much lasts for ever - growing in ever-increasing banks if you let things go that far. Though the leaves and stems wither and die back every autumn, the underground parts of the plant survive, so it continues to come up again growing new shoots year after year. The 'original' variety of the plant is quite high - maybe a couple of feet tall, or more once the flower spikes have grown, but the type I got from the garden centre is a dwarf variety that doesn't stand much more than a foot and a half tall. (It's a depressing trend I've noted in garden plants in general, this drive to breed 'dwarf' versions of everything - as it seems what with the drive to put every inch of this country under building development of some type, that nobody gets to have anything other a nominal, miniature plot of garden any more). Potted perennial plants of this type now seem to cost about £5 to £6 in garden centres generally (though my dwarf golden rod was marked down to a couple of quid when I got it as it was the end of the season).

      So dwarf goldenrod, just like ordinary goldenrod, only shorter. The plant before it flowers is a collection of sturdy, leaf-bearing stems topped by a developing flower spike. The leaves are an attractive of mid-green, smooth with a dull sort of sheen - not overtly shiny or matte. When the flowers come, these occur as pointed / drooping pyramidal sprays of fine, tiny bright yellow blossoms - the individual flowers being too small for you to pick them out (at least from a distance). The plant doesn't flower till late summer / early autumn (although the foliage is present from much earlier in the year) which can be useful as it provides interest in the garden later on in the season.

      I'm not sure what you're supposed to do about the dead stems of plants like Solidago in winter - do you prune them back or what? Recent advice from 'Gardeners' World' on the telly suggested that you should leave the died-back stems of perennial plants in place 'as a wintering refuge for invertebrates' which seemed all right to me - although it does look a bit scruffy. Anyway, although it looks dead at first glance in winter, you can tel l your Goldenrod is still all right as it has small, ground-hugging shoots right at the base of the stems even once the main plant has gone.

      My other half brought a mixed bunch of flowers back from the local Tesco the other day, and in amongst the petrol-station chrysanthemums, etc. was a nice spray of Golendrod, which gave nice texture and colour to the bunch. So I guess it works well as a cut flower, too!


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