Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The "Joys" of Purslane

The carpet of green above is purslane (Portulaca oleracea) which is truly an example of a plant that can be equally considered good and bad (depending on your point of view). This is a prolific, spreading plant that has fleshy, stalkless, paddle-shaped leaves and reddish stems. Rotary Gardens has been infiltrated and almost overcome with this weed which germinates late in spring but can reseed very quickly, as the blooms are hard to notice and low to the ground. Our soil has years worth of seeds that continue to form these carpets of doom. When the plant is bigger and more established, it is easier to track down to a growing center point that can be pulled easily out of wet soil. However, in many cases, there are thousands of little seedlings that need to be totally removed or sprayed with herbicide as any little piece left in the soil can continue to grow. In fact, portions uprooted and left on the soil may use the abundance of water in their stems and crank out a dying gift of seeds and another weeding nightmare. We do use RoundUp to control this weed in the cracks between our bricks and patios. However, we are currently "in the trenches" trying to manually remove purslane from planted areas. The frustration is knowing that manual removal is just a temporary respite as it's near impossible to eradicate this darn weed permanently without a concerted effort to deal with the aggressive recurrence of this plant.

Now the good. Purslane is edible and good for you. This native of India and parts of the Middle East was supposedly Gandhi's favorite food and has been used as a salad herb for thousands of years by many cultures. Purslane contains Omega-3 fatty acids (good), vitamins B & C, carotenoids, magnesium, calcium, potassium, etc. This succulent herb is heavily promoted in the "edible landscaping" movement and can be eaten fresh, cooked, stewed, etc. There are numerous herbal uses of this plant as well. It is very easy to grow but again, the issue isn't the culinary or health value of the plant but it's vigorous, reseeding and spreading nature. Simply a plant out of place, you decide...

We started hauling in some freebie annuals today which have traditionally (and thankfully) been vital in finishing our planting. We'll continue to plant seasonals thru next week and always keep "backups" just in case. Marv, Marianne, Terry, Jerry and Larry were kept hopping today with watering, weeding, planting, etc. We finally did get some rain but I'm glad we ran irrigation and sprinklers regardless. We just need some serious 85 degree days to get things moving along and start drying up some of our flooding issues.

Another cool clematis to the left is called 'Madame Julia Correvon' which just draws the eye. We have to do some minor tying up and securing of our clematis' as they're on 5' tall posts and most would go considerably higher. They can tend to get floppy but the flower power is undeniable. To the right is the purple-leaved dahlia 'Mystic Illusion'. I can't believe the wonderful contrast between such dark foliage and the bright, clear yellow blooms. We've grown this before (this shot taken in our sunken garden) and are impressed with it's medium height (less than 36") and it's strong blooming all the way until frost. There are actually three other varieties in the Mystic Series with the same foliage but blooms of pink, deep orange and light orange. Look for them. See some of my 'Seriously Scarlet' breadseed poppies (Papaver somniferum) in bloom in my backyard. My youngest daughter has spread thousands of seeds around the yard and we never tire of seeing this annual that will continue to be part of our garden after we're all "six feet under"...

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