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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 8/27/2014

IN THE GARDEN

Slumber shake up in the yard

Ajuga, Goldilocks, Lamb’s Ear, Petunias, Roses

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
GARDENING COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE
Kelly Heidbreder Kelly Heidbreder
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Your lawn is in a semi-slumber in this late summer.

You might have noticed that you are mowing it a little less frequently if you have an unirrigated lawn like mine. This is also a good time to see the imperfections in that turf and replace it with another low growing perennial. There might be a plant that is better-suited for that spot in your garden.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Ajuga

This colorful perennial, also known as bugleweed, is dark green and deep purple and really likes to fill in.

It is a favorite around my garden in the shady spots. It has a tiny lavender or white flower and shows off its deep foliage all season long. It spreads easily so it makes a great under planting that will take some work out of weeding once it gets established. But just like all good things, it can work its way into your grass if you don’t give it a defined edge.

Goldilocks

I picked up a small pot of Goldilocks, also known as Creeping Jenny or Moneywort, many years ago from the Toledo Botanical plant sale. I just liked the lemon-lime color and the tiny foliage that hung over the pot. And I must say, I also love it because of its name. Goldilocks is a very hardy vine that also makes a thick ground cover.

It’s punchy color makes it a great match with other plants that are dark purple or hot pink. It is so easy grow that I literally thin the thick spots by pulling out a handful of it, then tossing it on another part of my garden. I give it a little water and it starts to take root in its new home in no time. It also makes a great filler for those containers or under ornamental trees around your landscape.

Lamb’s Ear

Lamb’s Ear has low growing soft silver leaves can fill in a sunny space very nicely and don’t even need good soil. This perennial doesn’t even like a whole lot of fertilizer. They will sprout spikes of purple flowers that need to be pinched off when they are done.

And they also make a nice silver line down the side of a walking path to “light” your way.

Petunias

You can create a blanket of color in a large patch by packing it with petunias. Wave petunias will dead head themselves and keep on blooming all summer long. The colorful horns of flowers come in many vibrant colors like hot pink, red, lavender and many other colors of the rainbow.

You can find these annuals with tiny flowers like milliflora that will fill a container and spill over the sides. Grandiflora have the largest bloom up to four inches in diameter.

They work great in large areas that are hard to reach because they will creep around the bed and keep growing. But they do need some attention. Petunias like to be pinched. Break their long stems half way back at this time in the growing season so they stay low and bushy, rather than long and scraggly.

Roses

You’ve seen portulaca if you wander through most rock gardens in full sun. The low ground cover is also called Moss Rose. But don’t look for soft fuzzy green foliage on this annual. It has small needle-like leaves that sprout off of short stems that like to spread out flat, rather than reach for the sky.

It gets its “rose” name for the tiny rose-like blossoms that bloom all summer long. This is a great choice for that spot between the sidewalk and the curb in your yard. You know, that strip of grass that gets neglected and you hate to mow? Dig it up next year and plant portulaca and let it fill in.

This colorful ground cover also works like a charm in a rock garden or wall with small crevices to fill. It doesn’t need a whole lot of attention and still looks great. Just good drainage and lots of sun, then let it go.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com 



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