I am surprised, and pleased, that a small patch of spring planted Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) survived several weeks of heat when this seemed in question, and now appears to be growing after weeks of flooding rains. The native spurge is unexciting, but in recent years I’ve been inspired to cover every small area of open ground, with ordinary plants, or not, so I’m happy that Allegheny spurge has taken hold after a slow start.
It is not necessary that every plant in the garden makes one jump for joy. Some must do the dirty work, though the foliage of the spurge is pleasant enough and there will be a brief period when it flowers. In this densely shaded, dry ground, the more vigorous Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis) would be less challenging, but I’m happy to give this native a chance.
The intent in covering ground is to cut down on as much weeding as possible. If ground is not covered, there are weeds, and if I live long enough I hope to cut my labor by half. Already, weeding and other chores are half of, say ten years ago, when there was more enthusiasm for such things. Certainly, there will always be some weeds, but cutting a substantial share of what I do now is good reason for planting, and of course, some will be treasures and not only practical.
Encouraged by this success, I’ll plant more of the spurge in September, along with trilliums and False Solomon’s Seals (Maianthemum racemosum, above, that now grows wild in less obvious spots in the garden) in the shade beneath the Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla, below). I proudly proclaim the magnolia (to anyone who will listen) to be superior to ones seen in splendid, long established and well funded gardens visited this summer along the Washington state coast. This is the single plant that can be claimed as superior to ones growing in northwest gardens, and I suppose that much like evergreen magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) that thrive in the heat of the southeast (where they are native), this deciduous magnolia also prefers Virginia’s heat and humidity. While I cannot match the lushness of the coastal gardens, at least I can brag on this one tree.
In fact, many plants are better suited to this area than the coolness of the northwest. Our native dogwood (Cornus florida) is not at its best out west, and many hollies and azaleas thrive with more heat and humidity.
Also, here there is water. Recently, too much of it, but gardens in the northwest must be irrigated, and here, not so much. I’ve never had a thought about irrigating this garden, and rarely water anything, though occasionally at planting if conditions are dry. No doubt, the recent rainfall saved the Allegheny spurge from my neglect.