As you may imagine, several things happen when the weather turns cool. Cool weather plants begin to thrive again, as they did in the early spring and as they did not during the heat of August. Galium odoratum, Sweet Woodruff, Bed Straw, is one of them. This plant is different than the traditional groundcovers in that it, like Asarum canadense, is an herbaceous perennial, meaning that the foliage dies down to the ground upon encountering a few good frosts. With Galium we are rewarded in the spring with striking overlapping of whorls of fine narrow leaves of a lighter green color than the traditional dark green waxy look of pachysandra and vinca minor, with the texture more even and dramatic than the above-mentioned groundcovers. For a few weeks in the spring there is a very small white flower on top of the wire-thin scapes appearing to float above the foliage. The plant looks as though it is not going to survive August and then it does as soon as the nights are cool.
We have learned several lessons several times, and we are fast learners, comparatively. One is to never trim the plant in the heat of August no matter how rough it looks as that will kill the plants dead. Just leave them alone and look somewhere else when you want beauty and a respite from cognitive dissonance. The other lesson is that this plants propagates best, or only, when it is cool, meaning that production seasons are early spring when the shoots first come up and then again from about mid-September until after a couple of killing frosts. In other words, let us know right away if you have a big order in mind for next year (2021). We have the cutting stock and the personnel in place to produce this a lot.
The reason this plant is called “sweet” and “bedstraw” is because when it is cut and dried it becomes sweet smelling. Back in Medieval times it was against the prevailing religion of Europe to take baths or to wash up or whatever most people do these days. The reason was a reaction to the ancient Roman tradition of heated public baths and getting clean all of the time. The Medieval church conflated the paganism of Rome with getting clean and they certainly did not want to have anything to do with paganism. Therefore, it was important to, every fall, harvest a bunch of Sweet Woodruff, dry it, and stuff the mattresses full of it. This got you through most of the winter. Then, in the spring any leftover dry sweet woodruff, or maybe it was fresh sweet woodruff, or fresh stuff dried in the oven, can be infused in white wine to make May Wine. The recipes are varied but they all agree that this is an ancient pagan fertility drink to go along with dancing around the May Pole. I think that after a winter of not bathing anything that helps should be used. Call us if you want a lot. Someday I hope to snag a large order from a large winery.
Cool weather reminds also me that the selling and shipping season is slowing down. You would think that after all of these years in the nursery business we would be acclimated (to coin a phrase) to this happening. It is still a sad time. We are always hoping for that last half a month of warm dry weather to facilitate landscaping installations. This year we are observing a new phenomenon—plant hoarding—that is bringing joy to our optimistic hearts. Because of rumors or perceptions of plant shortages in the coming spring some of our customers are stocking up on perennials to store in their own poly houses to ensure a reliable supply in the spring. We, here at Twixwood, like to think that we are a reliable supplier of plants to the landscape industry and will have a good supply from next spring through next fall. On the other hand I would like to sell more plants this fall, and any way that we can even if we have to feign incompetence to make the customers nervous.
Several things happen as a person ages, from losing one’s hair to having short-term memory problems, but the main thing that I am losing is my pride. For the sake of making a little more money this year I will do whatever has to be done to sell some more plants to the hoarders.