Conoclinium coelestinum

If you want to scream right now, I’m alongside you. Not so long ago, this was Eupatorium coelestinum. And that’s how it will remain in my tired mind. But, whateveryoucallit, you can’t beat it for a surge of very late season color.

And what a color. It’s difficult to capture this hue with a camera, you’ll just have to trust me that it’s a dreamy purple along the exact same lines as ageratum. But I abhor most of the modern ageratums — there’s something about a stiff wad of blossoms that strikes me with the same cold horror as a bouffant starched in hairspray. But this little eupatorium is wonderfully thready. It weaves itself thinly through your garden, biding its time until September when nothing else is in blossom. And then it forms a purple haze. However, fair warning: If you don’t do proper vigilance, it will be too much of a good thing. Much too much.

Some perennials totter on the precipice of polite society, and this little number straddles on the verge of brattiness. You can’t really trust it. Every year, I rip out a big wad of runners that sneak into other plants’ turf. But memories of this little native perennial’s late season performance keep me from totally eradicating it. So far, I’ve maintained the upper hand. If anyone wants to warn otherwise, speak now.

And isn’t this what gardening is all about? If every plant was a model citizen, how boring would that be? We need more Conocliniums (or whatever) in our midst. And even if you are a stern disciplinarian, you need this autumn color. Loosen up!

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