greentapestry : A Margery Fish Moment

Friday 17 April 2009

A Margery Fish Moment

I think that it must have been my Margery Fish phase that was responsible. Whilst reading 'Gardening In The Shade' I was seduced by these words; "Variegated ground cover plants look particularly well under shrubs and under dark places. My stand by is a yellow dead - nettle, Lamium galeobdolon variegatum, which grows most generously, looks nice always and is particularly beautiful in the winter when its silver and grey-green leaves are startlingly brilliant. None of the recipients of the plants have complained about it and I have had none of the hard looks which which usually come after my donations of alpine strawberries, for instance. This lamium sends out long trails and and makes roots at each axil. It roots in gravel, in the poorest soil and at the edge of stones. As well as using it as a carpet to cover daffodils, under silver birch trees, and to pour down a shady bank like a silver waterfall, I put pieces at the edge of paths where they meet walls or buildings, and which are favourite places for flourishing colonies of weeds. It has a great idea of artistry without any help from me and can transform a dark underplanting of ivy or claytonia by weaving the shining leaves among the dark ones but disturbing no one".

I have spent most of the afternoon removing this thug, which has spread all along the patch of land at the side of the house. It certainly creeps along and roots as it goes. Well Margery must have had some exceedingly polite friends. I have very few yellow flowers in the garden so it must been the description and the foliage that made me weaken. I remember that it was a plant that took some finding at the time and that I was delighted to get my paws on it.

Again on the subject of thugs Himself also did battle in the same area today risking spontaneous combustion as he removed a lonicera nitida. Next to come out tomorrow will be some winter flowering jasmine. Then time to have another look at the area and for decisions to be made about what will go in the bare patches. I will also move some plants later this year. It's a shady east facing patch. Hellebores, campanulas, hardy geraniums, heucheras, tiarellas, brunnera and aquilegias are planted there and seem happy. The Japanese Painted Fern seemed happy too last summer but still no sign of it reemerging. My intention now is to include some later flowering interest. I am still deciding what to plant.

I have another lamium which might go in somewhere along there which I bought from the Country Market this week. This is lamium orvala which I was told is "gently self seeding".

Will I regret this purchase ? Time will tell !


  1. Ooh, know what you mean about the battle against the thugs. I've asked BB to remove 4 shrub/tree stumps; this means pick axes and lots and lots of cups of tea and encouragement. But it has to be done. There's a Hydrangea border to create and I'd really like it done and dusted by the end of May. No pressure there then for him.
    P x

  2. Go for it! BTW - I've always wanted to know what winter jasmine looked (and smelled) like. My great-aunt out on Vancouver island, B.C. grows it in her garden. It's too cold here, so I've never seen it.

  3. Don't you hate when you read something described one way and have it do the opposite in your yard? It does have pretty foliage though. Good luck with the new one, it sure is pretty!

  4. I have some lamium that blooms pink in a spot where I pull it out when it goes beyond the area I want it in. I have given some away, too.

    I didn't see the original post about thugs, but I have experienced some. The worst for me was garlic chives, which reseed freely, and when pulled, don't stay pulled.

  5. Dont talk to me about alpine strawberries. Every since I moved to this area I have been stuggling to eradicate them from this garden and the one before. They are as bad as bindweed. I hadnt come across them when I lived down in Berkshire.

    I bought a dead nettle from the Malvern spring show last year - cant remember which one but I'm sure it has pink flowers. I doesnt appear to be doing much though

  6. lol, I too am pulling it out be the yard, err, but I didn't plant mine
    It does look quite pretty under the shade of trees and other difficult places.
    Have a great weekend
    PS - i always enjoy the little drawings and quotes in your sidebar, do you do the illustrations?

  7. Hi Anna I am an immense fan of Margery Fish 'We made a garden was one of the first gardening books I read'. Her comments about her husband always made me chuckle as Mike was no gardener then. But I love they way she talked about her plants. About 25 years ago we visited her garden in Somerset a real delight. About 5 years ago we called again as we were in the area it was an even better delight. I heard the garden and house were up for sale a couple of years ago so haven't heard what has happened to it.

    Lamium does not grew well in my garden but then perhaps I should try it in a shady area.

  8. Hi Anna, I enjoyed this post so very much. Margery Fish wrote so delightfully about plants. How could you not fall under her spell? I have my thugs too. In fact, I think I accidentally added one last summer darn it.~~Dee

  9. ... humm.. I used to have these .. had to treat em very very mean! Astilbe and Astrantias might like your shady spot? Have you got those??

  10. I have your lamium growing under trees in some dry, stony soil where not much else would grow - only other thing is ivy. It is great there but I would not put it anywhere near a flower bed!

  11. Hi Anna.
    Margerie Fish is a new writer for me. Will look into her work. Thanks for introducing her to me.

    I was able to identify the white flower at the bottom of my last post of our Florida travels: Sagittaria latifolia or Common Arrowhead or Duck Potato. Tubers can be dug and cooked from what I've read. What wonderful sights we discovered down there.

  12. Hi Anna~~ When I saw your post title, Margery Fish, I was immediately drawn. I love her writings. However as I read about this particular Lamium, I'm thinking, well I guess we disagree on this plant. Then when I read that you consider it a thug, I was relieved. My neighbor, bless her heart, grows this horrid stuff just on the other side of our chain link fence. Guess where it wants to go. My yard. I have to keep constant vigil. As you said it doesn't pull up easily and it has a ghastly scent. I too have very few yellow flowers, not being particularly fond of them. The yellow flowers next to the silvery foliage is ugly ugly ugly.

    However, I too like the more hospitable pink and purple flowered Lamiums.

  13. Don't you hate it when plants cross the line from "easy care" to "the garden is mine, all mine"?
    Don't give up on your Japanese painted fern yet. Although my garden is probably behind yours, mine don't come up until May, and the first fronds start small. The related ghost fern (Athyrium x 'Ghost') is generally more robust, and unfurls quicker in my garden.

  14. I have a similar problem with ajuga as you do with lamium. ... too much of a good thing! I donate a lot of it but still seem to have plenty. And how'd I even get it? Someone gave it to me, of course! :)


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- Anna.