Vermont Garden Journal: Goldenrod

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I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. There’s an old Cherokee Indian legend about two tribes fighting over hunting grounds. one tribe got the upper hand and raided the other’s village killing everyone except two girls. One of these girls was dressed in lavender and the other bright yellow dress. They escaped and found their way to a Medicine woman who knew they would be hunted down and killed. So, as they slept she mixed a magic potion and spread it on the sleeping girls. All that was left when the Indian raiders came the next morning were an aster and goldenrod flower.

Goldenrod is a native North American wildflower that is in full bloom this time of year. It’s mistakenly blamed for season allergies because its bloom time coincides with ragweed and other allergens. Unlike other allergens, the pollen is heavy and insect spread. In fact it makes a deep rich colored honey. Also, the flowers can be used to make dye, medicine, wine, and tea. After the Boston Tea Party, the colonists started drinking goldenrod tea as an alternative to black tea and called it Liberty tea.

The native species naturalizes quickly taking over abandoned fields. If you grow it in your landscape, divide the plant every few years to keep it in bounds. New hybrids, mostly bred in Europe and Britain, have a more contained growth habit and are perfect for the fall perennial garden. Grow these in full or part sun location on well drained soil. ‘Fireworks’ grows 5 feet tall and has bright yellow flowers along each stem making each branch look like an explosive of color.  ‘Zigzag’ only grows 3 feet tall and is know for the crooked stems. ‘Gold Rush’ is perfect for a low border or rock garden. It grows only 1 foot tall.
For this week’s tip, in anticipation of the beginning of the end of the tomato season, prune off new growth and flowers on plants now, so your plants put their remaining energy into maturing fruits that have already set.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I’ll be talking about leeks. For now, I’ll be seeing you in the garden!

Goldenrod Folklore
Herb to Know: Goldenrod

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