Years ago I worked in a private garden where the borders had themes.

Many strange themes. Very strange owners, in fact.

One bed was called ‘Thugs Corner’.

You slightly dreaded being sent to ‘Thugs Corner’ to work, because you did wonder whether you would ever quite make it out alive.

There were the burrs of the burdocks, the milky-sap oozing ascelepiads and vicious forms of nettle, such as Urtica pilulifera. (I mean who wants a nettle in their garden that roman soldiers used enjoy flogging each other with?)  There were plants with mind destroying, fragmentary roots and plants with running, thick, cord like, roots that ran relentlessly beneath what you wanted to keep.

And since they were all thugs it was one of those borders which was really quite difficult to interpret as you gardened, because everything ran everywhere.

The final discouragement was that you would create order out of chaos, only for it to be recreated in a matter of weeks.

If it had been my border I would have reached for the black plastic instantly. 

I often think of ‘Thugs Corner’ when I pass the White Rose-bay Wiloow Herb, Epilobium angustifolium ‘Album’. It is one of those plants, which everyone who walks round your garden describes as ‘absolutely lovely’ and you gamely agree, while privately thinking  they must be barking.

Because this plant needs a ruddy health warning on it. How is it that people are still allowed to sell it?

It’s a bit like Carex pendula. Well, maybe not quite as bad because it does this at least do this:

These white spires of inestimable beauty are  followed by pale pods arranged like a multi dimensional fish bone:

At some point these pop open:

Like now!  The air is thick with thistledown and you thank god on your knees fasting that, unlike many of its Rose-bay Willow Herb cousins, not one of these seeds ever comes to anything.

At least not yet anyway!

But don’t be fooled, this one knows about the ‘Thugs Corner’ root spreading technique.

In its early years it is quiescent, but in heavier soils once it gets going its fingers creep partout.

At the moment it is on the elbow of a very long circumflex shaped border. So I suppose I do have my own ‘Thugs Corner’. I wish it was actually on the end of the bed where it could only spread in one direction. Because that is one way of containing it to some extent. 

In fact I am close to wondering whether to have it in a lawn where it can be mown round.

Perhaps the edge of the woodland looms for The White Rosebay Willow Herb.

R

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