A week’s vacation in Algonquin Park in Ontario has convinced me I need more butterflies in the garden.
Every back road was lined with hazy purple flowerheads of wild boneset or Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium spp.), each with a fluttery gathering of monarch, mourning cloak and red admiral butterflies. Some of the bonesets are quite statuesque, like E. purpureum subsp. maculatum ‘Atropurpureum’ (7 to 10 feet / 2 to 3 m, Zone 4), with purple-spotted stems and broad rose-purple flowerheads. That makes a memorable impression!
What I have is the more compact ‘Gateway’ (5 to 6 feet / 1.5 to 1.8 m, Zone 4) of the same species, with dark wine-red stems and dusky pink flowers.
Butterflies love these plants, and I’d like to get a collection going. I’ll be looking for another cultivar in the same group, ‘Bartered Bride’ (6 to 8 feet, 1.8 to 2.4 m, Zone 5), which makes a striking display with huge creamy white flower domes. These bonesets are terrific plants, bringing height, colour and beautiful fluttery things to the autumn garden.
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