Mysterious Plant: Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch? (WITH UPDATES)

Friend or foe?  I don’t know!

I couldn’t resist the Wizard of Oz reference, as my garden has been a sort of enchanted world to me this spring.  (And I wouldn’t say no to that beautiful field of poppies, either.)

Shortly after we moved into our place last August my friend Bev gave me quite the housewarming present – a carload of perennial divisions and seeds from her garden.  You can read the list of gifted plants here.

She had clearly labeled all of her seed packets with name, color of flowers, any special notes and  instructions as to whether the seeds should be planted in Spring or Fall.  Wonderful!

So, last fall I went around the borders of our yard and side garden, scattering seeds, willing them to come up for me this year.

The question is, have they?  Unfortunately, I just don’t know!  This is our first spring here, and so there are lots of things coming up – perennials from Bev’s divisions, plants that the previous tenants had left behind, bulbs that I planted last fall, and random things that have re-seeded themselves here and there (like the Rose of Sharon).  I don’t know my weeds very well and I am also new to perennial gardening, so I don’t know what to look for in most of these emerging plants.  Some I know are biennials and so they may look different this first year than they will next year.

So far I know what Lambs Quarters looks like (and that I can eat it, and that it grows all over  our yard!), and I think we’ve identified a lacy-foliaged patch of plants as Larkspur (which I am ecstatic about – they came up!  They came up!)  Larkspur

I’ve been reluctant to pull up certain things until they get large enough that I can hopefully identify them…and that time has come.

I need to do some research and look at some google images, but if anyone out there happens to recognize any of these plants (whether they be good or evil), I’d sure appreciate knowing.

Sadly, I LOST MY GARDEN JOURNALS.  Everything.  Ironically, I left them at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Plant Sale at the cashier desk.  Unfortunately the journals were never turned in to their lost and found.  I really don’t know what good all of my maps and charts and info and records would do anyone else, and I keep hoping that they’ll be turned in but it’s not looking good.  SO, I no longer have a record of  which seed I planted last fall, but here are the ones I’m pretty sure got planted and I’m on the lookout for:

Foxgloves, Feverfew, Hollyhocks, Butterfly Weed, Forget-Me-Nots, and Hibiscus Trionum (Flower of the Hour.)

Not so sure about: Cockscomb, Calliopsis, Cleome, Miribalis (Four o’Clocks),  and Dwarf White Zinnia – those may have been spring-planting seeds.

At any rate, and with no further adieu, here are the mystery flora…all 20 of them-yikes! I’m hoping that at least half of them are “good witches,” but I’m not so sure I’ll be that lucky.

**Comments and names refer to the photo above.
Mystery Plant #1

Mystery Plant #1, overhead view

Mystery Plant #2  (one vote for WEED)

Mystery Plant #2, overhead view (one vote for WEED)

Mystery Plant #2, full view (one vote for WEED)

Mystery Plant #3
Mystery Plant #4 – lovely purple flowers! (Tradescantia, SPIDERWORT – a keeper!)

Mystery Plant #4, close up (Tradescantia, SPIDERWORT – a keeper!)

Mystery Plant # 5 – long and leggy, near the Persian Shield (possibly Heath Aster?  Worth keeping a while to find out…)

Mystery Plant #6

Mystery Plant #7

Mystery Plant #8

Mystery Plant #9
Mystery Plant #9, another view

Mystery Plant #10

Mystery Plant #11

Mystery Plant #12

Mystery Plant #13

Mystery Plant #13, overhead view

Mystery Plant #14

Mystery Plant #15

Mystery Plant #16
That’s Mystery Plant #16 in the foreground. The large plant behind it is Mystery Plant #17.

Top view of Mystery Plant #17. To the right you can see a small rose that self-seeded in this unexpected spot. It doesn’t receive a full day’s sun back here, and yet this wild rose seems to be growing. Go figure.

Mystery Plant #18, overhead view. (possibly Heath Aster?  Worth keeping a while to find out…)

Mystery Plant #18 again. Long, leggy and grassy…looks like Mystery Plant #5, which makes me think it is likely a weed.  (possibly Heath Aster?  Worth keeping a while to find out…)

Mystery Plant #19

Last but not least, Mystery Plant #20.   (Likely a tree…giving it a few more weeks to see what it does.)

11 thoughts on “Mysterious Plant: Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch? (WITH UPDATES)

  1. Wow! You have your work cut out for you.

    Plant #4 is definitely Tradescantia, Spiderwort. It likes some protection from hot afternoon sun, but deep shade will make for fewer flowers. It’s a keeper!

    Named for John Tradescant, English plant explorer and collector from the 1500-1600’s I think. He also worked for royalty, making lavish gardens at various castles. Author Philippa Gregory has two books about John Tradescant and his son, Virgin Earth is one of them, unsure about the other. Really great for plant lovers.

    • Thanks, Bev! It’s nice to know what this one is! What an interesting story about it too.

      It’s actually growing right along the fence between us and our neighbor – technically on their side, but it’s sneaking over to us. Perhaps I can snag some seeds from it later this year and spread it around.

      I haven’t read Virgin Earth but I’ve liked many of her other books, so perhaps I’ll this one to the list. Thanks again! One down, nineteen to go! =)

  2. #18 reminds me of my Heath Asters, very tiny white daisies all along the arching stems in September/October. A native plant, fairly tall, okay in 3/4 sun to full sun. Climbing asters are very similar in appearance at this point in spring.

    I can’t get the link to work taking me to the “list”. It may be on my end, though. According to my list from a 2010 email, Heath Aster was not mentioned.

    Of all the photos, #18 is the one I think looks most promising as one to keep. I agree it is similar to #5.

    #20 looks like a young tree. Being against your foundation, I would pull it out in a few months, after noticing that it has not bloomed or otherwise earned its keep.

    I can’t recognize anything else definitively. It’s a bit tricky deciding on the scale of the photo, judging exactly how tall the stalk is or how big the leaves are. Placing a garden glove or a trowel into the photo would give a clue about scale.

    Those menacing things in #5 that are tall with lime green stalks (weak, temporary) remind me of something unwanted. I can’t place it. But it looks opportunistic and coarse.

    Here is a photo link of weeds done by Ohio State – many would also apply to your area.

    It’s a smart strategy to wait for flowering to determine if the plant can stay or go. You may have lovely things there. What do the young fig plants look like? Could they be any of these pictured items?

    I will take some photos of my seedlings (from some of the items on your list) and send them to you later on for comparison.

    How heartbreaking to have lost your wonderful journal. I can’t believe no one turned it in. Maybe they will shortly, when they decide they can’t use it. Such a shame! I bet you were in shock when you realized what happened. I would have been calling and crying over the phone to the BBG. Is it possible it was left on the subway? Do they also have a lost and found. I feel your pain.

  3. Thanks again, Bev. I definitely left the journals right there at the cashier desk when I purchased my plants. No doubt about it – I walked onto the subway empty-handed (had plants delivered). Sigh.

    Heath Aster was definitely not on the list, but I’ll hold off on pulling those plants for a while and see what they do.

    “Those menacing things in #5 that are tall with lime green stalks (weak, temporary) remind me of something unwanted. I can’t place it. But it looks opportunistic and coarse.” – Bev, #5 looks to be the same thing as #18, which you said was the most promising…did I miss something? Is it not the same? Guess I’ll wait and find out.

    I’m just bummed that you don’t recognize anything that was on the list of seeds you gave me last year…that means nothing came up except for the Larkspur! Shoot.

  4. Sorry! I meant to say #2 looks opportunistic and coarse – brain is addled from too much rain!

    I hope other blog-fans can help you with ID.

  5. Darn – the sniff test proved only that the plant smells nothing like garlic whatsoever. Amazing how much it looks like the garlic mustard, though!

  6. Drats. The only one I was sure about was the spiderwort, which you already got a positive ID on! Is #15 a mint of some kind? Give her a good sniff! 🙂

  7. Hi again-

    The seedlings in #6 and #10 seem similar, perhaps one set a few weeks younger than the other?

    When I grew the Wild Tradescantia (Commelina, Asian Day Flower) from seed, seedlings had that appearance. It was three leaves together with one of the leaves being very short. If #6 and 10 are near each other and also near the patch of Tradescantia you have, maybe they are its seedlings. I don’t know how far the seeds might go, though, perhaps they are carried by wind?

    I am sending you Pokeweed photos to compare with some of your taller weeds.

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