Arguing that bugleweed (Ajuga reptans, below) is not a weed, given its aggressive reputation, can be wasted effort. But, after two prior failed efforts in this garden when bugleweed was improperly sited and neglected early on, several areas now flourish, spreading vigorously but treading gently so as not to disturb neighbors. Now, I endorse it as a pleasant and practical choice to cover areas between shrubs or larger perennials in a shaded space, having seen none of the negatives for which bugleweed is disparaged.
In this acre and a quarter garden where free hours for relaxation are demanded, open ground is an invitation to weeds, and to labor that I have never pretended to enjoy. Some gardeners set out benches, but claim always to be too busy to put them to use. There are several seating areas in this garden, and all are regularly used. Admittedly, these are often resting places between spurts of determined labor, but the balance overwhelmingly favors resting rather than working. And, bugleweed and other spreaders largely contribute to tipping the scales.
Unfortunately, I have not discovered the plant to cover exposed ground in the damp, lower third of the rear garden that has been renovated in recent years. This area is sunny and often wet during rainy periods (and never dry), and until newly planted trees and shrubs mature, too much time will be spent managing weeds. Ideas to cover ground in this area are usually dismissed as too aggressive, though I am beginning to lean in the direction that aggressiveness is preferable to pulling weeds that are back two days later.
I am considering transplanting bits of cypress spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias, above), moved at the last moment before being overrun by a seedling of ‘Espresso’ geranium, but into too shaded a spot where it has languished. Having witnessed the lacking of the spurge in battle with a geranium, I am probably too confident that it will not turn into the aggressive demon of its reputation. I am quite desperate, so it’s worth a try. Cypress spurge is quite lovely in bloom, but also with exceptional, lacy foliage. And, aggressive might be exactly what is needed for this damp, weed prone area.