Monday, April 8, 2013

Ajuga: surely you jest?

Ajuga chamaepitys near Meteora, Northern Greece
 Hard to believe I took this picture almost 20 years ago: a fabulous volunteer has begun to scan some of my older transparencies--plants in the wild, plants we no longer grow, plants we grew much better once, for the record. As I filed these pictures in my database, I was stunned to realize I had no digital images of Ajuga--a huge and really wonderful genus (if you can ignore the one ubiquitous and horrendous groundcover everyone knows--hard to do I know). I have seen, admired, photographed ajugas in South Africa, in central Asia and China--and quite a few in my private garden. Many of these are somewhat challenging to grow (believe it or not), unlike the pestiferous A. reptans. But none have stuck with me like the above: I have been weeding hundreds of that irresistible and nasty little ground pine Ajuga from my xeriscapes for years--I doubt they'll ever disappear. Not quite as bad as henbit or filaree (I've removed several wheelbarrowloads of the latter two this last weekend alone), but the little yellow ajuga comes in a distant third behind these in ubiquity. All three are cute, come to think of it, in a diminutive and devilish way...

Ajuga chamaepitys ssp. glareosa
 But then there is THIS! I got var. glareosa from one of the Czech collectors some time ago (ex Turkey). I grew it (as you can see below) quite well, and it did seed around a bit--enough so that I was hesitant to share but not enough to really be a problem. It never took to my new garden with quite the same zest, and one day I looked around and I didn't have it any more. I have more than enough of its cousin--but this is an example of how one species can have a very weedy subspecies and one I would characterize as a choice, desirable and eminently suitable garden plant. If you have some seed of var. glareosa, please share! I miss it!

var. glareosa at Eudora in the glory days...


  1. In the words of a well-known European rock gardener, "Is weed".
    It seems to be suspiciously close to Ajuga bombycina, from what I gather on the web.
    Seed $50 each, since is weed.

  2. You still have it, you so and so! Your weed is my treasure: I must have some weed to swap you!

    Is terrible!


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