Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thug Buddies

Not everyone appreciates a thug in the garden, but there is one way you can deal with them if you still want to keep them around. Get them a thug buddy! They are perfectly suited for working around each other. I can just imagine them saying “You’re growing there? I’ll just go around you over here ….”

Bushy aster (Symphyotrichum dumosum)

Blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) is a wonderful fall nectar plant but a well-known thug. In a dry month like October (traditionally our driest of the year), however, it can be nice to have the blooms so I always try to keep some of it. Last year, it got a bit out of control so I pulled out a ton of it this spring (knowing that what was left would bounce back).

Blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)
Bumblebees love asters!

This fall I was surprised to realize that small-flowered white asters - which can be a bit pushy - had jumped in the bed with it. What a gorgeous combination they make, weaving in and out among each other. The bees are happily visiting the asters while the skippers and butterflies like the mistflower. It’s been fun to watch them all dashing around each other, not unlike what a wild roadside might look like.

Growing above them is tall thoroughwort, Eupatorium serotinum. It has mostly finished flowering now and, while a bit of a thug itself, was never a bother to these guys. Occasionally a stem of tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) pops up, adding a cheery splash of yellow. This goldenrod is also a thug but it doesn’t get much of a chance here.

Thug life!
Come spring, some of these will get pulled again just to keep the place a bit more tidy (for the neighbors, you know) and to let the spring things have their turn. In between the editing and the competition, most of these will be just this side of rambunctious for next fall.

So, if you’re got a thug in your garden, at least get him a friend to keep him company!


  1. I rather like these thugs. I have the space for them to battle it out so I don't mind them spreading and the pollinators sure do appreciate them too.

  2. Very pretty combination... the asters grow very nicely at my house, but the ageratums barely grow in the dry sand... so, not a thug in my garden....