The first garden I made at Astolat, in 2005, is the one that I call 'Serenity.' Back then, it was in a great deal of shade. I read that lamium, a tough yet showy perennial groundcover, was one of the best choices for shady areas. It has green and cream leaves and pretty pink or purple flowers that bloom in spring. The three or four plants that I put in that area quickly spread and became the expanded carpet you can see in the picture at the beginning of this posting.
|The common name is deadnettle; I prefer Lamium|
|Lamium maculatum 'Shell pink'|
|Lamium with purple blooms in the Horseshoe Garden|
The stems of lamium root in the ground where they touch. It is not difficult to pull them out, however, and new plants can be moved easily. I often add them to planters -- a great money-saver. At the end of the season I reduce the number of plants in each bed quite drastically; I cut back the remaining ones in the spring. I remove any that are encroaching on other perennials throughout the season. As I said, they are annoying thugs.
|I often add lamium to container plantings|
I fell in love with gooseneck loosestrife when vising a homeowner's garden while on an open-gate garden tour. I especially loved how it attracted pollinators. I purchased just two plants: one for the cottage garden and one for the circular bed that later became the Horseshoe Garden. The two plants spread rapidly by underground roots, particularly in the round garden that was constructed with layers of organic matter in the lasagna method. Eventually, I had the plants removed, with great difficulty, from that bed. You can read how this task was accomplished HERE. I kept the stand of gooseneck loosestrife in the cottage garden, being careful not to encourage its growth by adding compost.
|Gooseneck loosestrife, Lysimachia clethroides, is adored by bees|
I enjoy the mass of white flowers in the summer. They provide rest for the eyes from the colors of the traditional cottage garden plants. I spend time, however, pulling out those that invade the space of others.
|Gooseneck loosestrife and phlox 'Bright eyes'|
Morning glory is a beautiful annual vine that will rapidly cover a trellis with its heart-shaped leaves and pretty, trumpet-like flowers. Gardeners who grow this plant know that it will freely seed all over your garden if allowed. As a result, one of the most time-consuming tasks is deadheading. When the flowers close in the afternoon, if not removed, they are replaced by berries filled with seeds. The mature berries fall to the ground where the seeds take root. I've found, to my cost, that as a result morning glory vines can take over the garden if left to reproduce at will.
|Morning glory Ipomoea purpurea|
|A morning glory vine even twined around my potentilla shrub|
This season I neglected the deadheading task due to travel and weather. I know this means that next spring I will need to look for the numerous seedlings that will pop up, and must pull out as many as possible. More work than I want.
But morning glory vines are beautiful ...
I'm not so enamored with vinca vine although it is a classy-looking evergreen groundcover with sweet blue flowers that bloom in spring. Vinca minor and vinca major should not be confused with annual vinca that is not a vine. This last season, because of favorable weather, I think, my vinca vine spread more rapidly than usual and began to effect other flowers in the border. It began to crowd-out my beautiful hyssop and some miniature roses, greatly reducing them. When I tried to pull some of the vinca out, I found the roots too firmly attached. (It doesn't help that I am losing upper-body strength as I age.)
|Periwinkle, Vinca minor|
|Hyssop with vinca vine around its base|
|A well-established and difficult-to-remove groundcover|
I feel guilty for wanting to remove this thug because it was planted by my mother-in-law before the garden was mine. She loved her 'periwinkle' and wouldn't understand me trying to eradicate it. As an organic gardener, I wont use chemicals. I'm considering using the solarization method next year. I'll let you know how that works out.
I wouldn't recommend any of these four plants to new gardeners. I planted the first three many years ago before I knew anything about gardening in America. There are better behaved alternatives, requiring less upkeep, that I will be glad to suggest to anyone who would like to know.
Do you have a love/hate relationship with any of your plants?
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