Click on the image for more information.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ajuga: Tough Ground Cover

Many eons ago I took a master gardener's course for Zone 9 (which is southeast Texas). I thoroughly enjoyed that course and learned a lot.

I think I might like to try it again for the north Texas climate. The biggest difference between southeast and north Texas is the rainfall. It never seems to stop raining on the coast. I was certain if I stayed there one more year I'd develop webbed fingers.

North Texas is dryer, a little cooler in the winter, but still as hot as it is further south. Some plants simply don't grow as well here, especially the acid loving plants like azaleas and some berries.

I can live without the azaleas, but I want my blueberries and blackberries, so I've been dusting the new plants with a little sulfur.

One plant that did very well when I transplanted it here is a little ground cover called ajuga. It grows wild on our property in SE Texas and I moved some last year to my front garden. Although it's spreading slowly, it is spreading tightly. My ajuga never got any bigger than about six inches in SE Texas, but it's growing a bit taller out in our new place.

Above is a picture of my patch of ajuga at my north Texas home. It is just now beginning to bloom.

Ajuga is a very hardy ground cover that can take a lot of traffic and it has the most beautiful blue flowers you will ever come across. It is originally from Europe and seems to do well from Zones 4 to 9. Some people say they can raise it in Zone 3, but they have to protect it.

It is terrific in rock gardens because it prevents the soil from washing away.

From what I understand all parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten, but the dogs have never been interested in it. Not even Thresher, aka Vishnu, the Destroyer of Worlds, aka Iko, the Scorpion King.

Considering Iko has devoured entire tree stumps, I am profoundly grateful he doesn't like ajuga.

Are there any special flowers or herbs that you like to see in your garden? I'd be grateful for some suggestions to add to my landscape. I'm specifically looking for taller perennials that will give me some color in my Zone 8 climate. What's worked well for you?


Joanne said...

I hear you on the fresh blueberries. Really, you can eat them like they're candy. I like the look of ornamental grasses added to the landscape. There are so many varieties, and they change in appearance throughout the seasons, including adding a winter texture to the yard.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

A garden is a what now? ^_^ I have a black thumb. I've killed cactus.

Also...your dog ate a stump? Can I borrow that dog?

Barbara Ann Wright said...

Was that supposed to be cacti? Yeah, I've killed cacti. I'm a multiple cacti killer.

Sherri said...

Aw...blueberries. My parents had a couple in Oregon until a friend thought to prune them...poor things still haven't recovered and it's been almost 3 years.

I'm still experimenting with what grows and doesn't here. I'd love to get roses again, maybe I'll try one in a pot next year.

Maria Zannini said...

Joanne: I was thinking of some ornamental grasses. Not a lot, just a specimen or two to break up the space.

If I had my way, I'd replace all the lawn with useful and beautiful plants. Lawns seem like such a waste of space.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: I am seriously thinking of renting Iko out. I need to post a picture of the rocks he's excavated.

Ref: cacti
I started out killing everything that crossed my path. One day, a light bulb went off and everything began to click.

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: I've never pruned my blueberries--and never knew it would harm them if I did.

I'm glad you told me.

What zone are you in?

Dru said...

I know nothing about flowers, but your ajuga patch is pretty.

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Dru!

Anonymous said...

Hi Maria,

I'm in the process of adopting a puppy, and yesterday (in sheer panic), after reading somewhere on the internet about the ajuga being poisonous, I moved them to the front of the house, where the puppy cant reach it. Althoug this morning, I did more internet search, and actually came across some sites mentioning it's medicinal properties.
I find it very interesting that your dog wouldnt go near it, maybe it's an instinctive thing....

Laura =)

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Laura,

All dogs are different, but puppies tend to sample things with their mouths, just like human babies.

I think you did the right thing.

Congrats on the new puppy!