Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’ Flower

I am having something of a dilemma. I love Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’. There is a fluffy delicacy about the pure white flowers, and they appear in Autumn, when so much else is giving up the ghost.

Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’ Flower

I love the dark stems, and how they contrast with the flowers. I particularly love the deep purple foliage they sport from Spring to late summer – although I couldn’t find a single photo to illustrate this! But when Patient Gardener chose a lovely picture of its flowers for her Wordless Wednesday post this week it crystallised something for me.

Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’ in the wrong place

I’m really not enjoying it in my pond border at the moment, and I’ve been trying to work out why, and therefore what to do about it. (Sorry about the dreadful photo – grubby lens plus lots of wind.)

Eupatorium in the Garage Bed

I think the same plant looks great in the garage bed. I said as much in a comment on the Wordless Wednesday post, and Patient Gardener suggested that perhaps it was because it had better conditions. Its certainly true that it is a much bigger plant – the garage bed retains moisture better, and the pond border does suffer from the effects of the tree roots. I’ve also never really worked out what to do about improving the soil. I’d like to mulch the whole pond border with compost, but as it is covered (mostly!) in decorative gravel to make it look better during the winter, I never get around to it. I’d initially thought that I just didn’t like the white flowers against the slightly muddy green of the leaves.

Eupatorium in the drive bed

However, there is a plant of similar size to the one in the pond bed in the small bed on the corner of our drive, and I really like it there. From spring to late summer it is a solid purple full stop, and then it brightens up the darker, shorter days with its flowers. I have absolutely no problem with its leaf colour! So I’m not quite sure what to do. At this time of year, surrounded by the blazing colours of the grasses and the acer, I think the Eupatorium in the pond bed looks slightly dirty and out of place.

Eupatorium at end of May

The thing is, the rest of the year it does exactly what I had always intended it to do. Its purple foliage repeats the purple in the acer, heucheras and hazel, giving rhythm and coherence to the garden, and providing a wonderful backdrop for the other plants. Its unassuming, but lovely.

Pond Bed Side View

Even at this time of year I rather like it from the side, where the white flowers echo the pale straw of the Miscanthus. But the top picture is what I see from the house, and for whatever reason it is currently grating. I’d welcome any thoughts on this, because I don’t know what to do…

2 thoughts on “A question of place

  1. Two thoughts: I find sometimes if I just ignore whatever is troubling, it ceases to bother me, whether because I get used to it, or because it really isn’t so awful after all. Second, why not just cut off the flowers in that planting, as you enjoy the foliage so much during the growing season? In any case, I see nothing grating – your garage and pond beds are just beautiful!

    1. Hi Cyndy – thank you! I think you may be right about just ignoring it. It might be because I wrote about it, or just that the light was different today, or even that I was in a more mellow mood. Either way, today I rather liked it. So perhaps a lot of angsting about nothing…

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