Every gardener has favorites, and Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate, or Polygonum orientale is mine. An heirloom flower, it grows at the entrance to the kitchen garden, yet equally dramatic along a garden garden. The seeds originated in China, yet has been a mainstay in American heirloom flower gardens for over a century and the bees adore it. The long flowing cerise-pink flower heads are over 8 feet tall, a beautiful sight on a slightly windy day and seem to grow taller everyday with little effort on my part.
Last spring, I found seed in the Select Seed catalog, sowed a flat, yet nothing came up. Having seen a single plant in a friends garden the summer before, I had this on my wish list and was disappointed. Many of these unusual annuals are hard to find in local nurseries, the lack of popularity is simply because they are unfamiliar and there are no color picture hang tags to show what the plant will look like in bloom.
Hard-to-Find Heirloom Flowers
I called around to local nurseries and found five small, pot bound specimens at Walker Farm in Putney, VT. After planting, I did absolutely nothing, and they grew and grew, and now have reached 8 feet in height. They are in full sun, every time I walk by I admire them, which probably helps a lot. Plants, like people, respond to praise and these receive a lot. Looking for something whimsical, easy to grow, and colorful? It will not make a good cut flower, however, and fades within the hour in a vase.
At the end of the season, I’ll be saving seeds to share and and try again next spring. I’ve done a bit of research and this time I will put the seeds in the freezer for a week before planting. This creates a natural stratification that the seed would naturally receive in the wild, like many of our native species.