What’s in Bloom

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What’s in Bloom

Join us in each season for natural beauty, classes, festivals, and special events.
Select a season below to see what’s happening in the Gardens.

Dame’s rocket at Powell Gardens

Dame’s Rocket: Friend or Foe?

Last spring, as I was walking past an area near the David T. Beals III Woodland & Stream Garden, I fell in love with a spot filled with tall flowers in various shades of pink. At first glance, I thought it was garden phlox, but upon closer inspection realized that dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) had spread across the area

At the Gardens, they are right at home growing alongside hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale). Together, they are colonizing along the edge of a sidewalk growing under the canopies of redbuds that have also naturalized in the area. It almost seems wrong that a plants as gorgeous as these are on a list of invasive plants. However, it’s included with good reason. Though they make a colorful spring mix, the invasive species can choke out their neighboring native plants. We wonder, “Will it threaten other plantings along the edges of the streamway? Where is it going to pop up next?” We’re keeping a close eye on the nearby Susan Lordi Marker Native Plant Garden as it goes through a major update this year. We are also watching areas of the perennial garden where we have intentionally planted garden phlox.

Keep an eye out for dame’s rocket in your gardens, woodlands, and savannas. A quick way to differentiate it from garden phlox is the flower petal count. Dame’s rocket has four petals whereas garden phlox has five. If you find it, the best way to remove dame’s rocket is by pulling it before seed is set, being certain to get the roots.

Another advantage to garden phlox over dame’s rocket is the wonderful fragrance! Soon the renovation will be complete in our sensory garden and we’ll open up a sidewalk through the perennial garden. Visitors will be able to explore garden phlox and see what a wonderful addition it is to the landscape. And, if you see any dame’s rocket in the area, be certain to let me know. I usually have a digging knife close by to tackle invasive plants. 

Thank you for your continued support of Powell Gardens in these unusual times. It has been wonderful to have our visitors and volunteers return to the Gardens. You bring us much needed energy and assistance. We are grateful for all of your support. 

Take care,  

Susan Mertz, Director of Horticulture 

Garden phlox at Powell Gardens