Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I am Not Fond of Mulch

Mainly because I am always digging and moving plants and mulch just gets in the way.  I prefer a living mulch, like this reptans 'Atropurpurea' Bronze Ajuga.  It's the darker blue/purple flower behind the red primrose.  I bought a couple pots of it over 15 years ago and it has multiplied 1000 fold.
 Here is a more close up picture. 
Both of these pictures were taken in 2006.  Remember that first image because at the end of this post I will show you this area today.  Grab a Kleenex before you scroll down.

Back to the topic of this post............I have been wandering around the gardens digging up pieces of ajuga to put around the new front steps garden.

I think a nice thick mat of this live combination of green and  purpley-bronze ground cover will work much better in this area

 than any other mulch.  The purple ajuga leaves will go nicely with the purple Ninebark leaves.

Just imagine all this exposed soil covered with those blue/purple blooms in early June.  It should be beautiful!  That one pail of ajuga barely made a dent in coverage, so this week I plan to go out and dig up a bunch more. It will spread quickly.

O.K. back to the rockwall garden which I say, with all the modesty I can muster, looked gorgeous in that first picture.  Remember that was 5 years ago.  If gardens do anything, they change.  That picture had a lot of creeping phlox blooming around the ajuga. Unfortunately the creeping phlox became infested with grass and I just could not keep up with it.  Last year I made the sad decision to kill it all off.  I have been working on its death since June.

Here is a recent picture--grab that Kleenex and give it to me as I shed a few tears.......
I know it looks pretty sad.  A few years ago I decided to turn this garden into mostly shrubs to prepare for my old age when I can't be spending 2 hours a day bending down to dig out grass from the phlox.  So it had to go.  I must say the creeping phlox is putting up quite the fight!  I have used multiple applications of Round Up and there are still many areas clinging to life.  I think by next spring it should be ready to redo.  I do have 3 Alberta Spruce here which are all doing well, two cherry trees (so far the birds have eaten every single cherry) and a few burning bushes for vivid fall color.  This year I planted three grasses
 and I plan to add many more.  I have a vision of a shrub/ornamental grass garden that will look fabulous in the fall.  We shall see..................


  1. I just love everything about your garden. Really. I hope you don't mind if I STEAL some of your ideas from time to time!?

  2. Hi Zoey,

    Your Ajuga is very pretty and does spead quickly. I planted some along the edge of my gazebo and it appears to now be in the lawn! Come spring I will need to figure out how to get it out of there.

  3. Very pretty Zoey. I would have been hard pressed to change that area, but.... I would be doing exactly what you are doing. Oh that's right, I am. :) I just can't do all the deadheading and definitely can't do all the cutting back in fall. My back is already killing me. We'll have to get together some time and discuss all the shrub possibilities. I currently have mulch down but eventually I think the shrubs will be big enough that I don't need it other than a few places in my yard.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  4. Hi Zoey,

    We did have a battle with ajuga growing into our lawn some years back. However, now there are many new varieties that are not so aggressive. I love Chocolate Chip and some of multi-colored varieties. It is a tough groundcover and can be walked on without damage.


  5. The kleenex was warranted, that was such a sad sight at the end. sniff.

    How pretty the garden was in '06 and how frustrating that it has morphed into a maintenance problem. Keep at it, you will once again have a lovely space. All the gardener needs is determination and time.

  6. Zoey.. 'the purple' was gorgeous..but I too realize that some things have to change. It must be sad to say g'bye to that but now you can look forward to something new and less work..hopefully:)

  7. Zoey, I love the ajuga. I may have to get some of that for next year.

  8. Love it! I've been thinking of getting some of those to fill in a few gaps between I may just take the plunge!

  9. Sue,
    I would consider it the greatest compliment if you did.

    I have some areas where it's ran into the lawn. I don't find it all that difficult to remove. I use one of those long dandelion poppers and pop it right out.

    sounds like a plan. I have quite the problem because most of that garden is very shady. You are only seeing about 1/4 of it in that picture. It is 100 feet long and about 30 feet deep.

    I have not tried any other variety, but I am quite happy with this one. Since I have a lot of ground to cover, I like it to be fairy aggressive. It would not work well for very small garden areas.

    and a strong back! LOL.

    Well said. That is what I am hoping for.

    Barb & Scott,
    I think you will like it as long as you have a pretty good sized area for it to spread.

  10. hang in there Zoey and trust your gardenly instincts! I'm sure that you will turn it around. In these parts ajuga quickly becomes part of the lawn family - might I suggest a violet that acts like a ground cover? I put it in about 6 years ago and it has nice manners and spreads beautifully.
    I love what you do with your gardens! And I dislike mulch too!

  11. Ajuga is a neat plant, but where I have it, it didn't spread much. Too many lilies and grasses hogging the area.
    To make you feel better, over at Longwood, they are always digging up and moving plants.
    Definitely some low growing shrubs would be pretty. I'm all for low maintenance, but I like the look of mulch as my gardens are much smaller.

  12. I'm a huge fan of ajuga in or out of bloom. Good on ya for biting the bullet on the phlox. I think you have a great plan.

  13. Zoey, you are so talented. I love your gardens. I too hate much because like you, I root my own plants and I move stuff around but I found this chocolate mulch from Natures Scape that is so beautiful that I used it this summer. I live in a deed restricted community and they are always on me about my plants because I do not follow the regular boring landscape norms.I used sedum for ahile for ground cover but with so much rain this year, there were tons of snails underneath it.

  14. Those first two photos are quite impressive!!

  15. I have that same Ajuga. My neighbor said that I wouldn't like it while I was planting it...she was wrong. It's so easy to just pull out if you don't want it there.Balisha

  16. Oh, I am so with you! I love using a plant like ajuga around larger plants. I have some of this ajuga growing near my front door and I noticed this year that it's really taking off - I think I may move it to an area where it will have more room to spread out!

  17. Hi Zoey, How interesting, that you are not fond of mulch. I like my pine straw mulch, but then, to each his own. I must say, though the ajuga does look pretty. I keep thinking perhaps we should work on the garden for our older years but my hsb just keeps wating to make it larger! He says he'll be retired in a few years and then there will be two of us to care for it!
    Blessings, Beth


I appreciate you taking the time and effort to leave a comment. I will try to answer any questions you have. Please note due to Blogger changing word verification so almost nobody can read it, I have had to change to no word verification and only allow registered users to comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...