SLOW ME UP! Petasites japonicus

Petasites japonicus is a perfect example of how I don’t listen to my garden friends, and do everything wrong, but make myself happy--in the short run. These are just blooming now; I had forgotten I put them in late last fall. They came from the beloved Ed Bowen of Opus Plants in Rhode Island. Be careful, he said sternly, knowing by now that I would not listen. He warned me that the plant gets large. I am sure I snorted (privately of course), as I believe all men tell you things are large--fish, jobs, dreams--and I find they exaggerate.

Yesterday I found these looking so dainty, only about six inches up off the ground. They seemed to have popped up overnight. Naturally I couldn’t remember what they were so I emailed Ed. Then I looked them. I’m a bit frightened. Japanese butterbur is meant for large gardens (not mine by a long shot) because they spread via vigorous rhizomes, and their leaves are not large, they are gigantic. 

They will smother everything around them. When I planted them after a summer of weeding, I’m sure I had a murderous smothering urge, but that’s faded. Looks like another episode of Plants on Wheels. I promise to believe everything men tell me from now on, particularly men of the gardening variety.


Deana Sidney said...

I had hostas from hell in my old garden. They had found some kind of hosta perfect world there and grew the size of loveseats, obliterating all around them. No matter how ruthlessly I attacked their chainmail-like rhisome/roots they came back and looked increasingly ratty as summer went on just to spite me as they had been planted in full sun by the person who had the house before me. They were my scourge and my nemesis and yet I had a sneaking admiration for their resilience. Perhaps you will have a similar relationship with your monster. Years away from them, I remember them fondly.

Notes From ABroad said...

<< all men tell you things will get large and I find they exaggerate.>> ... Snort ! !
Living in a land of many unfamiliar plants, I kind of like the idea of planting something regardless of knowing where it will end up or how large or small.
I think being away from the more formal gardening that I experienced in the US has led me to enjoy just letting Nature takes its course, after I get things started.
I hope you will show photos at the end of summer when Things might be larger than you expected :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I've never seen anything quite like those. Don't remove them, it'll be fun to see what they do. Won't it?
They do make my gardenias and hydrangeas seem rather domesticated by comparison.

CocoRosie said...

These are beautiful and quite exotic! good luck with them...I long for the day when i'll be able to plant in my own garden. I just launched my floral site today. If you have a moment please take a peek. www.cocorosie.net - thank you.

MSW said...

What a fabulous entry, Dominique! Personally, I love Petasites' compact cauliflower-like appearance early in the spring (the Japanese actually eat it, though it is bitter and contributes to liver damage in the long run), and its eventual metamorphosis that gives its common name its impact. By the way, I miss your editorial prowess and missives, but am thankful you continue to write. Very much looking forward to your new book!

Splenderosa said...

I've never seen these, and the comment about the hostas is hilarious. Let them be for the time being and keep us posted on them. My daughter & I have been planting flowers for the past 2 days in her lovely garden on a little lake in Orlando. Don't have an idea if any of them can survive the HOT Florida summer, where she lives. xx's Marsha

Layanee said...

I just took a very similar picture of these in a friend's garden. Their sweet flowers do not give one a preview of that vast foliage to follow. Lovely shot.