Tag Archives: ajuga

Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ and Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’

After the first hard frost hit earlier this week, “color” in the garden is at a premium.

The one spot that stands out right now is this combination of Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ and Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’.


This Amsonia is absolutely on fire right now in terms of fall color. And it looks even better with the almost black foliage of the Ajuga at its feet.


Shockingly, I didn’t plan this combo (sarcasm alert).

I originally planted the Ajuga as a means to control the weeds around the stepping stones that lead from my back deck. And of course I also dug the dark, chocolate-like foliage.


Soon after I purchased 6 ‘Blue Ice’ plants and needed to find them a home. Planted among the Ajuga seemed to fit the bill and so, I did just that.

After a few years of living with this combo, I can safely say that just as the Ajuga blooms start to fade, the Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ flowers emerge.



From there, the Amsonia is covered in blue star-like flowers for weeks on end.




Once the blooms disappear, both of these plants provide clean and contrasting foliage up until the fall color arrives, which typically starts in mid-September.

This spot in the garden is in full sun, frequented by deer and rabbits and the soil remains wet most of the year.

To date, these two plants have thrived in these conditions.


Carex and Ajuga

Somewhere in my past travels I saw a line of Carex (Sedge) planted within a mass of Ajuga (Bugleweed). I believe it was at Longwood Gardens but it could have easily been in a magazine or even a dream (no exaggeration here). Either way, I found the combination intriguing and vowed to attempt it myself.

I have oodles of Ajuga in my garden:

And I love me some Carex.

It didn’t take long for me to identify the area where I wanted to make the magic happen:

All that was left to do was to purchase the Carex. My go-to retailer when ordering grasses on-line is Santa Rosa Gardens. They always have grasses super cheap, especially in the middle of summer. The plan was to acquire around ten sedges as this vignette needed to make a statement.

Lo and behold, Santa Rosa came through yet again and I purchased ten Carex oshimensis ‘Ice Cream’ at $3.99 a pop (hop over to their site immediately, they only have four left in stock):

Once they arrived in the mail, I wasted no time and went to work; blazing hot sun and high temps be damned.

Step one was to dig out small plugs of the Ajuga:

Step two was to replace those plugs with the newly purchased Carex:

It didn’t take long before all were planted:

Step three was to transplant the cut out Ajuga plugs to other parts of the garden.

Step four was to heavily water all of these plants.

The final step is to now kick back and wait and see if this planting performs and actually looks any good.

Only time will tell.

We’ve got blooms

Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’:




Trollius (Globeflower) ‘Orange Princess’:




Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox) ‘Emerald Blue’:


Ajuga (Bugleweed) ‘Chocolate Chip’:

Not necessarily a bloom, but still a cool shot of a peony:

OK, no blooms again, just sun + green = happiness:

And the daffodils are hanging on:


Ajuga Chocolate Chip

A wise man once said:
“Not all plants can be heroes. We need some to do the dirty work like fill in tough areas and/or suppress weeds. If they bloom and look nice, then all the better”.
Who said it? Well that would be … yours truly. And I just made it up as I typed this paragraph. Maybe some day someone else will use this riveting quote and I can tell my grandchildren about it. A man can only dream.
Ajuga Chocolate Chip owns the distinction of being the plant I have the most of in my garden to date; about 35-40 last time I counted:

This groundcover is so easily divided in spring/summer/fall that I only had to purchase three of these and all others are subsequent divisions. Some other bits of info for you:

  • Typically 3-4″ tall and 12-18″ wide. Ajuga Chocolate Chip is a dwarf/miniature ajuga and “knock on wood”, doesn’t appear to be too invasive like the rest of their kin.
  • Can be grown in zones 4-9.
  • Here in New Jersey, zone 6B, it blooms in May and puts on one mother of a show:




  • Does fine in full sun where for me, it tends to lean more green:
  • And works in half sun/half shade where the better “chocolate” foliage shines through:
  • Ajuga Chocolate Chip is deer and rabbit resistant.
  • While this bugleweed prefers well draining soil, I can attest to the fact it has survived serious water logged soil the past two winters.
  • In the late spring, I cut back the fading blooms and the foliage eventually takes center stage:


  • I like to think it offers three seasons of interest as it still looks good when the frosts hit in mid to late Autumn:

While most of my Ajuga Chocolate Chip plants are young (2-3 years), they are already filling in empty spaces in the front of my garden beds with ease. Most importantly, they are successfully choking out the weeds like a champ. Give it another year or two, and I’ll have 100 of these. Yes, I like them that much.

UPDATE: Want to see how I’ve designed with this ground cover? Read here.

Now the good news

I just got back from riding over a rainbow with a unicorn and then we shared a sundae and listened to Wilson Phillips. So needless to say, I am oozing positivity and have left my prior post in the rear view mirror. Now that was cathartic and I am all the better for it.

Love one another and enjoy:    

I have 3 Pieris sitting in containers from last Fall and I am still debating what to do with them. One of the best features of this shrub is the brilliant red new growth as you can see here. I have only one spot where these will work and don’t know if they are “worthy” enough. TBD.

The Ajuga ‘ Chocolate Chip’ are now blooming which is a sweet burst of blue this time of year. To be honest though, I prefer how these look after they bloom when the foliage takes on a nice maroon color. It will fill in empty spots real quickly but doesn’t take over. As I’ve mentioned before, they all divide real well and you can triple your number of plants in no time.

The Potentilla ‘Verna Nana’ are blooming …. ummm …. ehhhhh … they help suppress weeds … they’re OK I guess.

Now this plant is FANTASTICAL … blooms early in the Spring … nice green clean foliage that looks great spilling over stones. Another plant that has divided well for me.   

The Iberis ‘Snowflake’ is blooming and I am still lukewarm on this one. I moved these to a new, better draining location this year so I will give them one more year.

About to bloom Malus (Crabapple) and the blooms are off the charts. Bring it.

More tulip blooms about to pop. Sweet.

These Leucojum (Snowbells or Snowdrops … don’t remember) have been a revelation this Spring. I would love to increase the number of these next year as I’m sure they look even better in large masses.  

My first and only emerging Hosta ‘Great Expectations’. I definitely want some more this year. 

The Phlox ‘David’ seedlings are everywhere this year and I’m not sure why but I am anxious to see how they develop.

I transplanted this Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’ this morning from it’s holding cell in my raised bed to it’s new location in the bed surrounding my driveway. What struck me as funny in this photo is the Spirea sitting in the grass that I took out in order to move the Itea in. I left it there for an hour – roots exposed and all. It got me thinking about how I don’t follow the transplant rules very well and also transplant on a whim. It is a typical “male” stereotype of just “doing” without “thinking”. That will be a topic of it’s own in a future post. 

And I’ll end with a question. How should I handle these small off-shoots growing on the trunk of the tree. Should they be snipped? I’ve read that this should be done immediately whenever they pop up.

I’m thinking about posting a video soon but not yet sure what it will be about. I am considering pulling in a friend who was a prior actor (not kidding … actually once had his SAG card). Be afraid … be very afraid … but also prepare to have your mind blown.

Chat with you soon my friends.