Ajuga reptans ‘Black Mary’
Ajuga reptans ‘Black Mary’ has rich blue spires over glossy dark leaves that are so dark they are almost black.
So it makes a thick matting groundcover, that suppresses weeds and carpets the ground, as well as providing an excellent contrast to all the greens.
A pretty flowering groundcover
Produces a mass of stout spikes of deep, rich blue bugle flowers in spring, making a moody and elegant look against the dark leaves.
Then there are some vivid flowers again in autumn to complement the near black leaves..
The rich blue flower spikes rise 15cm. above that dense, flat mat of glossy foliage.
(Please see “Growing” section below for plant details, and how / where to grow).
Where to use in the garden
Ajuga reptans ‘Black Mary’ is ideal to use under trees and shrubs to carpet out weeds.
And it makes a great groundcover under rose bushes, where the dark leaves can complement rose blooms of any colour.
Hardy in sun or shade
Flowers best in 1/2 Shade; Dappled Sun & Shade; Morning Sun with Afternoon Shade; or Full Shade with good light levels. So it really is not fussy.
However Ajuga also copes in the extremes of Full Shade or Sun (though the foliage may scorch in Full Sun in hot summer districts).
Neglect proof and easy
Ajuga reptans ‘Black Mary’ is a fast grower, quickly making a tight-knit, weed suppressing flat mat.
So you can plant it between paving stones, or as an eye-catching edge beside a path, where it can tolerate light foot traffic. You can even mow it with the mowing machine or whipper snipper.
The dense foliage mat will help bind a bank or sloping garden.
And it also makes eye-catching feature pot, spilling down over the edges.
Hardy and tough
Ajuga really will give it a go almost anywhere, whether it be in Sun or Shade, Wet or Dry.
And it is not fussy about soil type, tolerating everything from sand to clay.
Though it does not enjoy being waterlogged for long, so well drained soil is all it requests.
Nor is it fussy about soil pH, making a go of it in either acid or alkaline lime soils.
It is certainly hardy, as it tolerates hard frosts to at least -10C; will hang on during periods of dry, and tolerates heat very well.
Growing: Ajuga reptans ‘Black Mary’
– Height with flowers: Deep blue flower spires 15cm. high. Foliage is totally flat to the ground.
– Width: Makes a round carpet to a diameter of approximately 40cm. But will go as far as you want it to cover, and easily weeded out when it gets to the edge of the allocated space.
– Position: Best in 1/2 Shade, Dappled Sun & Shade, Morning Sun with Afternoon Shade, or Full Shade with good light levels. However also copes in the extremes of Full Shade or Sun.
– Soil: Very unfussy. So it accepts everything from sand to clay, except it detests being waterlogged. And it is not fussy about pH, so will make a job of it in acid or alkaline (lime) soils.
– Frost: Very frost hardy, even in hard frosts to at least -10C or lower.
– Growth: Hardy evergreen perennial groundcover.
– Beneficial for wildlife: The flowers provide nectar for honey eating native birds, bees, and are also visited by butterflies and moths.
– Beware: Please consult a medical expert before using as a herbal treatment.
– Care: Extremely low maintenance ground cover. No trimming is required as it has a naturally neat, tight growth habit. You can even mow it with the mower.
Though an annual feed may be applied, it is not essential, as Ajuga is not a hungry plant.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Both rabbits and deer tend to treat it with ignore, because it has a bitter astringent taste.
– Fragrance: Sadly, no fragrance – But it is the only sin.
A plant of legend
– Origin: There are members of the Ajuga family all around the world, but particularly in Europe, Africa and Asia.
So it is truly a hardy and adaptable survivor.
Most of the modern garden cultivars are variations on European Ajugas, where their native habitat is in woodland.
– Myths & Legends: Ajuga has gathered a swathe of common names, with most reflecting the trumpet shape of the individual flowers in the stacked spire.
“Bugle”,”blue bugle”, “bugle herb”, “carpet bugle” are just some of the popular common names.
But it is also known as “carpenter’s herb” because it was used in traditional European herbal medicine to quench bleeding. For some people is was considered the sovereign remedy for hangovers!
Other traditional European herbalists used it for a tea to treat sore throats and mouth ulcers, if not sore heads.