The yard is so beautiful right now, it’s a pleasure to be out there even if pulling garlic mustard. Petals of crabapples and pears drift down on me while I kneel, and it’s only by getting down to ground level that I see all the wonderful, desirable things muscling their way up. I know I planted some of them in the fall, but many of my markers have been heaved up by frost or hoofed up by deer, so I’ll just have to wait and see what’s where.
I always try to get something else to establish when I pull out garlic mustard, and some of what I planted has turned out to be excellent at holding undesirables at bay: nepeta and lamium especially. Nepeta is called catmint, but my cat has informed me that the variety I’m growing is not catnip as she knows it. Lamium is called deadnettle, but I ask you, would you ever willingly plant something called deadnettle? It’s too lovely for that name.
My third confusing, but flourishing, groundcover is plumbago. In Pasadena, plumbago was a fairly tall shrub with thick clusters of pale blue flowers, which did like to sprawl but was definitely not a ground cover. It was also definitely not cold hardy – in our quindecennial frosts it either died back or died altogether, depending on how well it was rooted. How could they sell plumbago in Michigan? It turns out there is a variety called ceratostigma plumbaginoides, which is cold-hardy. It is also delightful, coming up just when needed to cover the fading daffodil leaves, and having deep blue flowers in summer and bright red leaves in fall. It’s hard to believe the two plumbagos are related. Taken together with the catmint that’s not catnip and the deadnettle that’s not dead nor nettley, I’m wondering what they were smoking when they named all these plants.
Meanwhile in the upstairs window, the tomato plants have started waving at me over the tops of their milk cartons: hello! Over here, person who calls herself a gardener! So I thinned them to one plant per container, and filled in around their stems with more dirt, almost to the cartons’ brims. They look happier now.