For many years, persicarias—also known as knotweeds—inhabited the periphery for me. I saw them but mostly looked past them, thinking of them as filler more than thriller. My first genuine appreciation came nearly 20 years ago after spotting a commanding swath of crimson-spired ‘Firetail’ nestled in a sea of palm sedge (Carex muskingumensis, Zones 4–9) in a new display garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Stylized meadows of this sort, championed by the landscape architects at Oehme van Sweden, are the perfect showcase for bold yet uncomplicated perennials like persicaria. With my interest piqued and eyes now wide open, my persicaria sightings became more frequent and satisfying. A trial to get to know them better was on my mind for years, but it took one notorious persicaria to finally make it happen.
Reasonable concern over the potential rambunctious nature of persicarias is justifiable, but a movement to banish all persicarias…
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