Slender Vervain (Verbena rigida) on the cusp of weediness at Boroondara (Kew) General Cemetery.
Verbana rigida was an early introduction to Victoria as a popular garden ornamental, with the type species in catalogues by 1864 and more than 200 cultivars of Vervain both imported and developed here in Victorian times. However, despite its prevalence as a garden selection, the plant is an uncommonly reported weed, with records mostly limited to the upper Yarra River and to far-flung eastern and northeastern sites. First recorded at Gippsland Lakes in 1872, it was collected at Hoddle’s Creek in the Yarra Ranges in 1902. The only true metropolitan collection of the plant dates to 1947 at Deepdene (not far from Kew Cemetery) when it was ID’d within native vegetation on a railway embankment of the former Outer Circle Line.
At the cemetery, we can perhaps posit the main colony as a possibly intentional planting, although it occupies an unmarked and (otherwise) unimproved plot. The smaller satellite outside a raised plot a row away is the more intriguing, appearing to have seeded out from the original plants and to now be experimenting with a weedy future for itself within Kew’s secret garden.