A recent post from my good friend, gardener and blogger, Gail Eichelberger, poses the question, “What’s wrong with goldenrod?” She then swiftly answers, “Nothing!”
I couldn’t agree more. Here is one of my favorite, if not THE favorite, late season plants. I rejoice when it spreads to cover entire neglected lots. I love how it pops up in inhospitable back alleys and inbetween houses. I also adore seeing it where it is welcomed: in state and national parks, along trails and around lakes and ponds. I rarely see it cultivated in gardens, and that’s too bad. There are a couple reasons for that, as Gail points out.
First people think it causes hayfever/allergic reactions. It doesn’t; that’s ragweed, which is out at the same time.
Second, it is undoubtedly aggressive. I have the same philosophy as Gail on this; she notes, “I have a love affair with rough and tumble, take care of themselves, colonizing wildflowers. If you stop by my garden today, you’ll see tall goldenrod/Solidago altissima duking it out with New England ex-aster/Symphyotrichum novae-angliae in the sunnier parts of the garden.”
Same here: I have tall rudbeckia jousting with tall eutrochium, common white eupatorium pushing against aruncus, and colinsonia shouldering its way through anything it can. That’s fine by me, but I realize not everybody likes such an unruly garden aesthetic.
That’s why there are five gazillion types of solidago—slight exaggeration, ok, but there really are plenty of hybrids, some of them very well-behaved. If you need evidence, here’s a great video entitled “So Many Goldenrods, So Little Time,” from Good Gardening Videos.
Long live goldenrod! (Not that it seems to need our help.)