A friend of mine asked me the name of this spiny-stemmed shrub with sweet pea-like flowers. It's growing in the yard of the St. Paul home she moved into over the winter. It wasn't one I was familiar with, but the University of Minnesota Extension site came to the rescue with the name: Rose acacia, a native to the southeastern United States that's usually listed as hardy to zones 5 or 6, forms of which are adapted for our more brutal winters. It's not likely to be something you'll run across in local garden centers, so who knows how it got there. Read more about the plant here blog.lib.umn.edu/efans/ygnews/2009/07/rose_acacia_-_a_shrub_with_sho.html
Chances are most of us have been there at least once, new homeowners in spring time wondering what the heck that plant is that previous owners put in (only later do we sometimes wonder WHY they did so), whether that unfamiliar green shoot is a weed or a desirable as-yet-unknown treasure. The latter scenario repeated itself in my garden for a few years, as I seemed to suffer plant amnesia over the long winters and couldn't remember what was where.
What unknown treasures or out-of-zone oddities have you run across in your acquired gardens? And what references do you turn to for identification? I like plants.usda.gov/java/ and the websites of catalog companies such as Klehm's Song Sparrow www.songsparrow.com/ or Whiteflower Farms www.whiteflowerfarm.com/. On the weed front, I like the U's "Is this plant a weed?" feature: www.extension.umn.edu/gardeninfo/weedid/index.html. (In my case, there's a pretty good chance it's a weed, just not one I know.)
Do any of you have rose acacia and have any advice for my friend on her colorful new plant? Should she pull any suckers to avoid spreading? Does it need annual trimming?
And on an unrelated note: Is this a magnificent year for peonies or what? All the office gardeners were gushing this morning that this is the most wow peony year they've had.