Tame the beast

I’ve been warned, but as is too often the case, I plant anyway. Every one who knows better agrees that Pinellia tripartita (below) is aggressive and a nuisance, maybe just short of being invasive, and I was told before planting it, yet I couldn’t resist its narrow jack-in-the-pulpit inflorescence. Fortunately, and for this blind luck can be thanked, the clump of pinellia has run into formidable roots of a ‘Burgundy Lace’ Japanese maple, and another aggressor, bugleweed (Ajuga reptens), that have limited its spread to a just few square feet. No problem at all.

My first planting of bugleweed (below) was a complete mistake. I mail ordered a small batch of partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) to plant beneath camellias and Oakleaf hydrangeas along with Cinnamon ferns that were just getting started. The plants that arrived didn’t exactly look like what I expected, but it was winter so they were planted. It didn’t take long to figure that these were not partridgeberries, but then I forgot about it until I noticed one day the superb purple carpet beneath the camellias and hydrangeas.

The bugleweed seemed to stop as it encountered a fern, or particularly when it collided with Robb’s spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae, below) that was galloping across a nasty stretch of root infested dry shade. Any plant that thrives in these adverse conditions is okay by me, certainly better by far than bare ground, so I planted more of varying leaf sizes and colors. Yup, it takes off and grows, just as I wanted it to cover ground that now rarely needs to be weeded.

I am still undecided whether the aggressive nature of Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris, below) is a blessing or a curse. Years ago, I transplanted a few divisions from a damp shade area at the edge of our forest to a half shaded, dry piece of ground just above a patio in the rear garden. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to harvest divisions to plant in an area on the far side of the driveway, and I’ve also chopped out dozens of small ferns that were popping up between stones in the patio and the nearby pathway. Fortunately, the ferns are easily pulled, but now they are tossed instead of transplanted.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bonnie C. says:

    Instead of tossing them, those Ostrich ferns at the still-tightly-coiled fiddlehead stage are absolutely DELICIOUS boiled until just tender & served up with butter, salt, & pepper. My favorite early Spring veggie that can be difficult to get at the markets.

    1. Dave says:

      I think you’ve suggested this before. The ones that grow between stones are much smaller than established Ostrich ferns, so it would take a bunch to be worth the effort. I’m well fed enough that I’m rarely thinking about food while I’m in the garden, but I’ll keep this in mind.

  2. Lydia says:

    Dave, are you saying you planted more varieties of spurge to cover the dry rooty area? Wasn’t sure if you meant the bugleweed. I need something to cover a large dry rooty areas! Thanks.

    1. Dave says:

      Bugleweed spreads quickly in good soil. Robb’s spurge tolerates dry ground with root competition.

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