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Third Time? Not the Charm.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY MARILYNNE ROACH

When I was just a beginning flower gardener, I got interested in Eremurus, or foxtail lily—so exotic and interesting and perfect for Zone 6, my growing zone here in Durango, CO. The delicate dry roots came with instructions to plant them three or four feet deep! Still a novice, I followed the directions. Of course, I never saw those plants again.

Years later, I saw that a new neighbor had gotten Eremurus to grow and sway prettily where I could see them from my front window. I tried again, only this time I planted them three or four inches deep. Still no luck.

I tried a third time, in the bed by my front window. Hey—a new plant emerged! Eremurus at last?

It looked like a carrot and smelled odd. Queen Anne’s lace? I looked it up: Conium maculaturm. Poison hemlock! It grew large, had delicate white flowers that lasted a long time, and attracted a wide array of insects and birds. A winner?

Yes, if you overlook the fact that it’s invasive and that every part of the plant is toxic to mammals (it’s the hemlock that was used to kill Socrates).

Should I try for Eremurus again? Who knows? Maybe the fourth time will be the charm!

This article was published originally in 2021, in GreenPrints Issue #127.


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