Lythrum salicaria: it’s invasive and destructive, pushes out uk-indigenous watercourse and riverbank plants and takes their place, but seeing the little islands at London’s wetlands in Barnes, each surrounded by a ring of the thick, waving purple stuff, I couldn’t help thinking, ‘I want that, that looks good.’
So two years ago I bought a packet of seed and sowed a pinch-full (the seeds are minute like poppy) in the greenhouse. Pretty well all of the sowings germinated, and about 8 found their way to being potted on and growing to fill 1 litre pots the following year. The little plants were then dug, admittedly somewhat unwisely, into the already-dense pond periphery and left to fend for themselves. By their third summer therefore, given the much-hyped vigour attached to their infamous character, I hoped to find them not just surviving the winter, but displaying a majority-rule, unrivalled by any other water-fringe species circling the pond. To my dismay only one plant remained.
Following a long, warm summer, the Thames footpath in Richmond is now swamped in loosestrife seed heads. I stopped along my commute to collect some, and the pods are now drying in the greenhouse.
Rather than sow again in the greenhouse as I had done before, this year I’m going to follow the ‘natural route’ and sow the seed directly into the pond margin. In the wild, loosestrife grows as a biennial, and sets it’s seed now so that the new plants have time to establish before the winter. So I’ve trimmed and scraped back the undergrowth and once the seed has dried I’ll broadcast it and be hoping for better success next year.