Monday, July 11, 2005

Escapees

To more adventurous plants, a garden can be like a prison. Some garden inmates manage to jump the walls and taste freedom. And because the fugitives seem to be on their best behavior, the guards don't seem worried about the escape.

One runaway just finished its season. Dame's Rocket, often erroneously called wild phlox, is a white, pink or violet mustard that brightens the edges of roadsides and woods in mid- to late spring. A native of Italy and the Mediterranean, Dame's Rocket offers not only fine colors but an extraordinarily sweet scent, designed to attract night-flying moths to blossoms that almost seem to glow in the moonlight.

Another escapee, just peaking now, has also taken to the road – or roadside – with equal relish. Hardly a country lane exists that lacks the blooms of the Tawny Daylily. These orange-flowered plants, as tasty to eat as they are delightful to look at, were brought here from China by 19th Century clipper ship captains as gifts for their wives.

These two natives of distant shores have joined others immigrants and taken to their new land – a melting pot of plants as well as people. Some aliens have become pests, to be sure, but many have added some Old World beauty to the New World landscape.

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