Bugleweed, essential in my lawn

In yesterday's post about the woodchuck, you can see a nice drift of purple flowers in the background in many of the images.


That's the bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) that my neighbor inherited when he moved in, and has spread in large swaths through his lawn and to a smaller extent mine.

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Neither of us minds it, and in fact I really like it. It's especially nice when it flowers in late April, but it's also very good when not blooming. I've dug some up before and planted it in various places in my yard, and I may do that again, adding more patches to my lawn. I love the texture it provides, and the darker foliage is a nice contrast to the other alternate lawn plants too.

Woodchucks don't eat it, nor do deer from what I can tell, and I don't know if I've ever seen a rabbit eating it either.




Although I knew there were both "purple" and green-leaved versions growing here, I hadn't really noticed before this year that there is quite a bit of variety in color of both the foliage and the flowers:



At first I thought that the lighter flowers went with the green foliage, but that's not always the case as there are dark flowers on green plants too. Let's look at the foliage...

There are the "purple" leaves:


The "chocolate" (ok, brownish) leaves:


and of course green:


Here they are again in mass, purple, chocolate, green:




The interesting thing to me is that these plants have been here for at least 15 years, possibly longer. They didn't always form such large patches in the lawn, and I'm pretty sure that all of these different colors wouldn't have been planted. Most likely a single color was planted, and the others grew from seed. That has to be the case, right?

Bees love the flowers, and with so many blooms there's bee activity on even the chilliest of days (like when I took these photos):



The flowers have no fragrance, and although they're small they're quite nice I think, especially in drifts like this.

Let's just take a look and enjoy...










You know, seeing all of these images together like this is pretty fantastic! What a beautiful plant!

Where's my spade? I need to go transplant some more of these right away!

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Sheila Read  – (April 22, 2011 at 7:39 AM)  

I'm guessing you're right about the bugleweed seeding itself in. I had a flat of plants several years ago that I never got around to planting. They bloomed and went to seed in an out-of-the way corner in my garden. Next year Ajuga plants were coming up all over. I, too, think they're pretty, although some consider them invasive. I like them because in my garden they tend to spread in semi-shady spots on hard clay soil where little else would thrive.

Gerhard Bock  – (April 22, 2011 at 9:37 AM)  

Wow, such atmospheric photographs. The panoramics would be awesome as page banners.

This is another one of those plants that act very differently here. I've tried ajuga several times but they just diminished from year to year and eventually went away altogether. And where I do see them, they're discrete clumps, not naturalized drifts like what you have.

:: Bamboo and More ::

M  – (April 22, 2011 at 1:59 PM)  

Bugle's are also used has a herb to reduce blood hemorrhaging. Tolerates being underneath bamboo which is always a plus.

Pauline  – (April 23, 2011 at 8:29 AM)  

Love all the ajuga in your lawn, lawns are so boring if they are just grass !As long as mine is green then I am happy, sometimes we let part of it grow long to be a spring or summer meadow, it is amazing how many different flowers pop up. This brings in more insects, which bring in more birds, everyone is happy !

Alan  – (January 31, 2014 at 12:53 PM)  

danger: I'll dig some for our next plant trade. :)

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