Buckwheat

I decided to try something new this winter. This rather untidy looking mass of gray leaves is a white-flowered form of the arrowleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum).

Arrowleaf buckwheat plant in winter
Eriogonum compositum

Yup, look again. You didn’t miss anything. It’s that mass of brown and grey in the middle of the picture. Arrowleaf buckwheat is actually a nice native plant that looks much better once it starts growing in the spring. The problem is that this plant has gotten too big and is sprawling over a bunch of other plants. I’m going to try something. Chop, chop.

I heard that if you stick branches of our native buckwheat into the ground during the winter, they will have rooted by spring. Let’s try it and see what happens.

First, to cut them into smaller pieces. Each one with a bud at the tip. Clean off some of the old, dead leaves, and voila! Two new cuttings (left side). Not much to look at.

I think I will plant them in the new rock garden. They’ll get lots of hot baking sun and very little summer water here. I’ve never watered the mother plant in the front garden, so they should be very drought tolerant.

Next, I’ll poke three holes in the clay…

…and then insert the cuttings, leaving the buds exposed at the top. Lastly, I pressed the soil into place around the cuttings so that there is good contact between the stem and the soil down below. That’s my planting tool off to the left. It’s a fairly sturdy metal rod cut off one of our fencing projects., great for making holes in the clay and for prying out smaller, deep rooted weeds. Maybe about 8 inches long. Really, just a piece of scrap. We’re really fancy around here.

For Pete’s sake, this is going to take forever. I’ve got a lot of cuttings. Time to upgrade to a trowel.

Then cram in a bunch of cuttings. The impatient gardener in action. Who knows if this will work?

Also trying cuttings from this smaller native buckwheat from the front rock garden. No idea which species, but it’s getting scraggly. It’s the plant with the tiny thin grey leaves in the center.

Finished cuttings, all cleaned up, to the left.

Switching back to the planting rod now.

Hole. Cutting. Planted. These cuttings were too tiny to use the trowel. Plus, this was a simple way to get them planted between the basalt gravel without having to pull it all up.

Done. There are cuttings all throughout the new rock garden. I probably won’t find many of the smaller ones again, unless they live. They blend into the rocks really well.

Slowly, I’m getting the garden filled in with more basalt rock, which will help keep the weeds down. My one concern is that the basalt will get too hot for the smaller plants in the summer and fry them. But, as the plants get larger, they’ll help shade this area and keep it a little cooler. I’ll leave you with this parting shot of the new rock garden in progress.