Readers in America will have to forgive me some of this. I understand you have many ‘invasives’ and many people only wish to grow native plants. And I think many of you have local rules which also inform what you are allowed to plant. Though it does seems some Ranters like to indulge a weed.
In the UK we have been cautioned not to call slugs and snails ‘pests’ , no doubt because it will offend them. And now we been forbidden to call a weed a weed. ‘Hero Plants’ they are now. We do have an invasive plant list in the UK, but there’s only about a dozen plants in it, but we do have a lot of what people term ‘thugs’, which they moan about volubly. Confused?
Well, my theme here is not really the particular plants I use as examples, so if any give you the horrors or would lead to you getting arrested if you adopted them, please spend a few minutes thinking of usable alternatives.
I think many people fear weeds because the weeds may gobble up the more delicate and refined plants. But many of us have quite large areas with no refined plants and none on the horizon, given the price plants are managing to sell at now. Some of us have quite large areas covered with a ‘hero plant’ we have been unable to get rid of. However, wandering round Veddw, as I do, I have been thinking how many rampant plants work well with other rampant plants.
I have a lot of ground elder, (Aegopodium Podagraria) for example. Which I gather you can eat. Though I know that if it were really nice to eat, the supermarkets would sell it. But I have it mixed very pleasurably with some other plants.
Here it is with Persicaria campanulata, which in the summer will ordinarily take over from the ground elder. Either of them can give UK gardeners the horrors, but they are happy together and you may even find yourself able to enjoy their springtime mingle. Quite attractive, I find it.
Last year I experimented with letting my hostas fight it out with the ground elder, and I confess the ground elder was a little too victorious. I don’t contemplate getting rid of it, as I know some people try to – I’m absolutely against futile and demanding activity. But it will get cut back regularly this year to give the hostas the upper hand. Management is my theme.
Were you to look very carefully at that photo you might spot another reputed monster: vinca minor (periwinkle) in that picture. A bit of an enemy in America, I understand. And probably here too. We inherited it with a ruined cottage, and from there it has spread:
It’s doing no harm there, and I do notice that other plants do come through it:
The anemone has been in for some years and is slowly begining to spread. This euphorbia (what is it??) is happy submerged in periwinkle.
At the edge of the periwinkle there is ivy, along with Erythronium White Beauty (see also) looking very happy. Will it seed into and spread maybe in the periwinkle?
Elsewhere a different variety of periwinkle is almost failing to hold its own:
The rodgersia wins, of course:
I think ivy is well hated though we manage to cohabit happily, including having an ivy fence.
It will also mingle pleasantly:
That wicked ground elder has a variegated version which also makes pleasing combinations, in this case with a plant I know a friend of mine has been painstakingly removing from his garden:
Last year I enjoyed this combination, purely resulting from my inability to weed this area satisfactorily. And now I won’t try.
And here’s a fun battle –
Are you begining to see some possibilities? If you love the leaves when they are fresh and new it is possible to strim them after they’ve been growing a couple of months to make them start again. This will also reduce their vigour, which you might possibly think is a good thing too.
I am always frustrated by knowing that the people who really hate gardening but who have a garden will never read garden posts and books. So they won’t benefit from contemplating such possibilities. But maybe you know someone like that and could suggest some vigorous and not illegal combination to them? Here is one of my biggest favourites:
There must be some possibilities for you? And just think how sound it will make you. Wild Gardens are IN. Aa a lover of ‘hero’ plants – you’ll be a star.
Really,Anne, surely you know that ‘ thugs ‘ are correctly known as ‘ ground cover ‘ and sold in vast quantity to the unwary; I believe that currently they are not on trend( ) but I bet they make a comeback soon!
Incidentally,I think the variegated ground elder was a Beth Chatto introduction and therefore beyond reproach( apparently)
They are due a comeback – they are my vary favourite plants. And now it seems I must be grateful to Beth Chatto – OK!
Anne, are you telepathic? Only recently have I found peace with Aegopodium. I had never been plagued with ground elder, but knew there could be a price to pay if I had to go up against it, as I have with a bequest of English ivy and Euonymus fortunei when we bought our house, I’ve been watching a year-old ground elder patch the last two months, when I walk around the block with Rufus in Louisville. I shuddered at first and then realized it was planted in heavy clay soil, on a south-facing, semi-shaded, barren slope that dries out in summer. It would never receive any attention. I’ve become a fan boy.
Watch out for the flowers – they are great cut flowers. It just now needs a vigorous complementary partner and you’ll have pleasure for months.
Here in Canada, ground elder is called goutweed and it is too vigorous in most gardens. Ground elder is a more elegant name I think. I love the verb “strim” and I hope more writers will use it on this side of the pond! Yes, I do think there can be a place for these heroes/weeds and I enjoy watching 2 or 3 of them battling for their piece of turf.
Most people think that plant is too vigorous anywhere, but I live happily with it. Will it beat me this year???
Glad to hear you’ll give our heroes house room. With an occasional – strim! What do Canadians call that process?
‘Hero plants’, huh? I like the re-branding. It’s all about the “right plant, right place”, right? The euphorbia picture sent me down a rabbit-hole search for which species it might be…Euphorbia commutata?
Your rabbit didn’t get it quite right, I think. But I have no better idea.
I’ve never understood the right plant right place mantra, given that most of us do bother to find out where a plant would like to live before sticking it in. Someone thought we’re stoopid, or what? But clearly plants which arrive uninvited really should have the manners to place themselves carefully.
m veey much into natie plants, but i think your idea is a good one. here in the USA we have someone who has poste about this. https://www.humanegardener.com/how-to-fight-plants-with-plants/ in my old age, i need to do his beause leaning over results in falls now. No weeding possible, and I hate to us chemicals.
I’ll check out that link. I understand the leaning issue and everything that will offer less future leaning is good as far as I’m concerned. Sitting is maybe best. Sitting and looking.
I can still walk and look. Favorite routine of he day.
I have a saying,
It is a fine line between a well spreading perennial and an invasive plant.
That said as an older gardener with an overly mature lasagna garden that desperately begs for digging, dividing and sharing I’ve lived through seasons of, ok what’s this years target.
Some “friends” gifted, some our choice when we were struggling to cover bare ground.
Bishops weed was one such gift we spent years eradicating.
Lilly of the valley we introduced to cover a bare dry patch under deck stairs, did the job but eventually crossed the line.
Brunnera, lovely, knees of trees, shade plant, but now we have dozens.
Common sedum, we have yards of it, great ground cover but taking over.
My point is when you are establishing a garden you welcome well spreading plants until they become thugs.
Then you cast them out for more well mannered plants.
The Moody Blues perhaps said it best, it’s a question of balance.
The longer I garden, the more I welcome plants which show some enthusiasm…..
Excellently illustrated; you make a good case for these plants. I still do feel very twitchy about the experiment with the hostas; I don’t know how you’ll take back control!
I will, don’t fret.
I know “ground elder” as “Giersch” because I am living in Germany. When I first noticed it in a bed, I thought it looked fresh and healthy and so just let it do its thing. Until I noticed it aggressively overtaking well-established, tough as nails perennials which eventually just vanished. Once I did a little research and discovered what that “fresh and healthy” plant was – and a bit about its reputation – I headed straight for the pitchfork and spent the next few days down on my hands and knees pulling it out of my bed. This despite a friendly neighbor telling me I could just make a pesto out of it. I am certain it was brought into my garden with plants a neighbor had dug from her garden and gifted me. I discovered it elsewhere in a wilder part of the garden and had success there smothering it with cardboard and masses of mulch and garden debris. I also planted that area sparsely with sweet woodruff which has since fully overpowered the ground elder and is currently in its full glory, just beginning to bloom. I am now very wary about accepting plants from other people’s gardens, which is actually a little sad.
You may be right – I don’t think it seeds much, if at all, but the roots, of course, wind their way in. Great to hear that about Sweet woodruff. I love that plant.
My ground elder is surprisingly well behaved under an oak tree with some hostess and Solomon seal cohabiting. What I bitterly regret is taking the gift of houttinya from another gardener. Now there’s a thug.
Can you find it a killer companion? Or even a friendly companion?
The good thing about our years-long severe drought was the killing off some pests and invasives–ahem–“Heroes”. Not all, but some. For example have not had a snail in the garden in years. Silver lining!
I know ground elder as bishop weed and it came with the house along the driveway where it does very well! I have no complaints. When I hit my 60s, I transplanted periwinkle in several places hoping for less weeding and it has worked. I miss some of the diversity, but so much less weeding!
Both have good flowers – we should be grateful and smile at them.
always fun to hear your perspective. “strim” is a new one for me. does it come from “string trimming” or am i missing something.
Yes, well, that is what it is and we do it with —— a strimmer! Which is a machine, not a person.
I was able to remove the bishop weed (ground elder) from our inherited garden pretty easily, years ago, but the ivy is relentless and it shelters mosquitoes (also relentless). We also have periwinkle, which I prefer to ivy. The most invasive perennials in my garden are hellebores! They seed themselves everywhere, but that’s fine, I just dig up what I want to move or pass along. Hardy begonias is another plant gone wild, and I can almost use it as an annual ground cover. I’m going to try that in a remote, shady area under magnolia trees.
My mother in law had rampant hellebores too. Plant in shade, RHS suggests. These were in full sun and got everywhere. Not the best you’d ever seen but a wonderful sight in full flower.