Name: Eupatorium maculatum ‘Bartered Bride’, White Joe Pye Weed
Zones: 7– 9
Size: 6 – 8 feet
Conditions: Average to moist
When it comes to unique plants, I have an unfair advantage of learning about really cool ones early on, and with a few choice plants, they were growing in my garden a year or two before they even hit the market. This is because I live so close to and volunteer at the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC. There has never been a visit that I didn’t walk away in wonder at the amazing plants that make up the JC Raulston Arboretum. It has definitely spoiled me as a gardener. I often think anything is possible.
If you are not familiar with the man bearing the arboretum’s name, Bobby J. Ward sums up J.C. Raulston here:
J. C. Raulston was the most important and influential figure in American horticulture in the latter part of the twentieth century. His passion for promoting new plants for landscapes was unmatched. As a teacher at Texas A&M and at North Carolina State University, he gave generously of his time to students, profoundly influencing their lives, altering career paths and personal directions. He saw potential in both plants and students. Against many obstacles, he succeeded in establishing the North Carolina State University Arboretum that now bears his name. Chlorophyll in His Veins is an intimate biography, celebrating the life and accomplishments of one of the most-loved gardening personalities.
Over the years, I’ve found that living nearby the JC Raulston Arboretum is both good and bad, though. I get to see some really cool plants, but they are often not widely available, if at all. It’s chicken and egg thing–which comes first? Nursery growers will propagate and grow plants if there is a demand. But how do you create demand if the plants aren’t widely available so people can get excited about them?
For a few years, I’ve admired the Eupatorium maculatum white Joe Pye Weed in the White Garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum. My garden, Helen’s Haven, has the rosy-pink pure species and a ‘Little Joe’ but I wanted white. My search for the plant began with Tim Alderton, Research Technician, at the arboretum. He suggest I call Tony Avent at Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, NC. Tim took an advanced look at Tony’s on-line catalogue and added with the encouragement by saying, “Tony use to carry it but I don’t see it on his website. Write him to see if he still has it.” I did. Tony wrote back, “We’ve offered several through the years and sales were worse than horrible. If I thought people would buy them, I’d be glad to propagate them again.” This was followed up with a note from Dianne Austin, Manager, Customer Service & Shipping, “I’m afraid very few gardeners have shown interest in this great plant. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a garden writer or two would resurrect interest in this under-used, overlooked garden gem?” Ditto. I took the interest.
I Googled and searched and was not able to find Eupatorium maculatum. Nothing. A Rolling Stones song came to mine but I couldn’t accept You Can’t Always Get What You Want…
So, I called Tim back and ask if I may come over to get cuttings. The JC Raulston is known for this kind of generosity. I’m not much of a propagator but I wanted this plant bad enough. Tim assured me it was easy to propagate with soft cuttings. As I was getting ready to head over to the arb, I did one final search and found it at Lazy S’s Farm. I ordered 2. I still plan to propagate it for myself just in case.
My order has been placed, and I was happy to learn it was grown by Northcreek Wholesale Nursery who is does a lot of work with natives.
So now I shall wait for my white Joe Pye weed to arrive. In the meantime, I will be dancing in the street…
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