Saturday, October 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-up: October 2010

Digging sponsors Foliage Follow-up on the sixteenth of every month so that the leaves get their chance in the spotlight.  This month, I deiced to highlight the four flavors of Ajuga found in my shady garden

Ajuga (Ajuga reptans) is the most common Ajuga in my garden (and likely in most gardens).  Its ground-hugging rosettes of green leaves have hint of dark purple near their base.  It will slowly creep out, forming a dense mat that looks nice under taller plants.  As an added bonus, mine typically produces short, purple bloom stalks in the spring.

This is my first year to try Catlin's Giant Ajuga (Ajuga reptans 'Catlin's Giant').  The leaves are significantly larger than those of regular Ajuga, but have the same growth pattern.  However, the leaves are completely green - lacking the purple highlights found in the previous version.  Will have to wait until spring to see if it blooms nicely.

Of my Ajugas, Burgundy Glow Ajuga (Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow') has the greatest amount of  eye-catching "pop" in the garden.  The light green leaves coupled with purple inner growth really shines in the shady locations.  It doesn't seem to grow as thickly as the other Ajuga varieties, but still looks very nice as it winds in and out of the larger established plants.

Another new Ajuga I'm trying this year is Chocolate Chip Ajuga (Ajuga reptans 'Valfredda').  This one has tiny leaves that form a thick mat.  The center of its leafy rosettes tend to have the typical purplish cast found in most varieties.  I have planted this variety over my Red Spider Lilies - which are now pushing up through them as I had hoped.

Be sure to check out Digging's site for more leafy postings.

Planted in the Ground:
  • White Margin Snow Rose (Serissa foetida 'Improved'): Transplanted; was struggling to get enough water, so moved it deeper into the shade.
  • Friendship Plant (Billbergia nutans): Two new plantings (made from splitting a single packed one gallon pot) added to backyard near path or deck - so that its flowers will be close enough to appreciate.
  • Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana): Transplanted to new location (others likely to soon follow); was near path but looked scruffy most of the year - so placing further from path to still get some flower color but be less noticeable rest of the time (not pictured).  

    Planted in Pots:
    • Star Begonia (Begonia heracleifolia): Transplanted from the ground to a pot; just couldn't recover enough from winter freezes to accomplish much; decided to improve its chances by protecting it in the winter.


    1. Very cool! I always enjoy the ajuga family. I didn't know there were 4 types. I'll be on the lookout. Thanks.
      David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

    2. All very pretty! One of my favorite plants!

    3. very nice!
      I like the Chocolate one the best, where does the name come from?

    4. I didn't know ajuga would survive our dry summers. Good to find out it will. It's a pretty groundcover.

    5. D, M & f: Think there is even more than the four types I have in my yard; just today I saw another variety called 'Black Scallop'.

      Sheila: They certainly are a favorite for shady spots.

      ~fer: Not sure from what the name is derived - maybe it produces chocolate chips as its fruit! Wouldn't that be wonderful - Mmmmmm.

      Pam: Well, they can look a little worn by summer's end (like so many of the other plants); but the shadier ones seem to be quite happy.

    6. Nice collection of ajuga - it thrives in cool Zone 3 as well. I like to use ajuga in containers because the foliage colour is striking and the plant is a pretty vigorous grower here - no luck wintering it over on the balcony though.

    7. Kim: Only if you had a greenhouse on your balcony!

    8. I'm an accidental ajuga collector. Love it. Black Scallop is lovely. In sun, glossy black. In shade, a deep greenish. It gets big. The chocolate chip is aggressive and will mat and grow over itself or anywhere you drop it, so beware. I do love it, though because of the dainty leaf. The Burgundy Glow is the most fragile and takes much less wet (and dry) abuse than the others, also less tolerance for cold ... which you probably don't need to worry about in Texas. LOL

    9. Didn't realize there were so many varieties of ajuga to choose from. Have you had them long? Do they do well in a dry shade bed or need more moisture. I could use a nice ground cover in a couple spots. Specifically under my Japanese Maple...

    10. Kelly: Yep - thinking the cold will likely not be an issue; thanks for all the good info

      Cat: Have had the "regular" & Burgundy Glow for a few years; the Giant & Chip are new this year. Thinking they'll need better than unassisted dry shade - mine get about the same amount of water as a shady lawn would. As most Japanese Maples in our area tend to want a bit more water - the Ajuga would likely get along quite well it.