I’ve never been much of a fan of the persicarias–especially the smaller varieties that have the red flowers. They remind me too much of that weed that’s all over my landscape, lady’s thumb, (polygonum persicaria) which, while much smaller, has that same pink compound flower.
On Tuesday night, while going to dinner at the Pond House, I came upon this planting in Elizabeth Park on the Hartford/West Hartford line. This is persicaria polymorpha, or the aptly named giant fleece flower. There were two clumps of them and each clump easily towered over my head, meaning they were probably 6′ tall, perhaps taller. This one was partially concealing a utility structure of some sort–you can just see its green sides to the left of the plant.
This is a great stand-in for an ornamental grass, and its plumes are in bloom much earlier. While it’s true that it would not have true four season interest like a grass would, it grows up to conceal a structure much earlier than the warm season grasses do (at least in a finicky climate like Connecticut where spring and even summer can often be very late in coming!)
Other plants in this family, while not attaining this height, do have dramatically variegated leaves–but for the breath-taking, jaw-dropping, “wow” factor, this plant sure took my breath away and changed my mind about persicarias!